A man’s chances of dying from prostate cancer are higher if he has a high BMI (body mass index), hypertension (high blood pressure), and raised blood sugar and/or blood lipids, which collectively are known as metabolic syndrome, researchers from Umeå University in Sweden reported in the journal Cancer.

The authors added that obesity does not appear to raise the risk of developing prostate cancer.

Currently public health recommendations regarding lifestyle and diet focus on preventing diabetes type 2 and heart disease. The authors say that the risk of dying from prostate cancer should be added to the list.

They explained that there is not much knowledge regarding a link between metabolic factors and prostate cancer risk, or prostate cancer mortality. Several studies have shown that obesity can affect the outcomes of people who already have the disease.

An article published in BMC Medicine, September 2012 issue, found that the fat that surrounds the prostate in obese men with prostate cancer provides an ideal environment for cancer growth. Fat is not only an energy store, it secretes several growth factors, hormones and cytokines, including adiponectin and leptin, and is a major player in the immune system, which protects the human body from disease and infection. However, excess fat can cause these systems to become unbalanced, which in turn raises the risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes type 2 and cancer.

Christel Häggström, MSc, Tanja Stocks, PhD, and team set out to determine what impact metabolic factors might have on prostate cancer. They analyzed data from The Metabolic Syndrome and Cancer Project, which involved 289,866 men. A visiting scientist, Pär Stattin, MD, PhD, from the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York City, led the study.

6,673 men were diagnosed with prostate cancer during a follow-up period of 12 years (average). 961 of them died from the disease.

They also found that those with the greatest risk of dying from prostate cancer had the highest composite scores. Composite in this text means they had a combination of metabolic factors.

Metabolic factors did not appear to influence the men’s risk of developing prostate cancer. The risk was for men dying once they developed the disease.

Dr. Stattin said:

“These observations suggest that cardiovascular risk factors such as overweight and hypertension are involved in stimulating the progression of prostate cancer.”

In 2011, according to the World Health Organization, prostate cancer was the second most common cancer among males, and the sixth leading cause of cancer deaths globally among men. Prostate cancer incidence varies considerably around the world. It is much less prevalent in South and East Asia than in Europe, and is more common in the USA compared to Europe.

In the USA, the American Cancer Society says that prostate cancer is least common among American-Asian men, and most common among Afro-Americans.

Written by Christian Nordqvist