In the first prospective study on the body fat distribution and risk of prostate cancer measured directly, researchers have found that higher levels of abdominal and thigh fat are associated with an increased risk of aggressive prostate cancer. Published in the magazine 'Cancer' of the American Cancer Society, these findings can lead to a better understanding of the relationship between obesity and prostate cancer and provide new perspectives of treatment.
Previous studies have shown that obesity is associated with an increased risk of advanced prostate cancer and a poorer prognosis after diagnosis. In addition, emerging evidence suggests that the specific distribution of fat in the body can be an important factor.
To provide high quality evidence, Barbra Dickerman, of the TH Chan School of Public Health of Harvard University, and colleagues analyzed the distribution of body fat using the standard measurement of computed tomography and assessed the risk of being diagnosed and dying from prostate cancer to 1,832 Icelandic men who were followed for 13 years.
During the study, 172 men developed prostate cancer and 31 died from the disease. The accumulation of fat in specific areas, such as visceral fat (in the abdomen surrounding the organs) and subcutaneous fat of the thigh (just under the skin), was associated with the risk of advanced and fatal prostate cancer. High body mass index (BMI) and high waist circumference were also associated with increased risks of advanced and fatal prostate cancer.
“Interestingly, when we observed men with a high BMI separately compared to those with a low BMI, we found that the association between visceral fat and advanced and fatal prostate cancer was stronger among men with a lower BMI. The accuracy of these estimates was limited in this subgroup analysis, but this is an intriguing signal for future research, “Dickerman warns.
Additional studies are needed to investigate the role of fat distribution in the development and progression of prostate cancer and how changes in fat deposits over time can affect the health of patients. “Ultimately, identifying patterns of fat distribution that are associated with the increased risk of clinically significant prostate cancer can help elucidate the mechanisms linking obesity with aggressive disease and target men for intervention strategies.” adds Dickerman.