Extra Fat in the Belly and Thighs Linked to Prostate Cancer Risk
A new study from researchers at Harvard University found that surplus fat in the abdomen and thighs was associated with an increased risk of developing aggressive prostate cancer.
The study followed more than 1,800 men for up to 13 years. Researchers tracked locations of fat deposits in the participants using CT scans, as well as monitored their body mass indexes (BMIs) and waist circumferences. Just over 170 of the men developed prostate cancer, and 31 men died from the disease.
Visceral fat, which is stored within the abdomen and surrounds internal organs, as well as fat stored just below the skin in the thighs, were associated with higher risks of developing clinically significant cancer. Specifically, for each unit increase in visceral fat, there was a 31% increased risk of developing advanced prostate cancer. For each unit increase in thigh fat, there was a 37% increase in developing fatal prostate cancer. Higher BMI and waist circumference were also associated with higher risks of advanced and fatal prostate cancer.
Earlier research has strongly linked obesity and the risk of advanced prostate cancer, and the authors of the study noted that different hormonal profiles are associated with different areas of the body that accumulate fatty deposits. Lead author Barbara Dickerman, PhD, said that the results could help “elucidate the mechanisms linking obesity with aggressive disease and target men for intervention strategies.”
An editorial accompanying the article noted that lifestyle interventions targeting weight loss, including diet and exercise, could benefit men at risk for developing the disease.
Cancer. 2019 Jun 10. doi: 10.1002/cncr.32167.