Among men with locally advanced prostate cancer, being overweight or obese is linked with a higher risk of death from prostate cancer. These results were published in the journal Cancer.

The prostate is a gland of the male reproductive system. It produces some of the fluid that transports sperm during ejaculation. An estimated one in six men in the U.S. will be diagnosed with prostate cancer over the course of his lifetime. Prostate cancer occurs more frequently in older men, in African-American men, and in men with a family history of prostate cancer.

Excess body weight has been linked with an increased risk of developing certain types of cancer, and may also worsen survival with cancer. To assess the relationship between weight and prostate cancer survival, researchers evaluated information from a prostate cancer clinical trial.

The study enrolled 945 men with prostate cancer that had extended through the prostate capsule (T3) or that involved nearby lymph nodes. Study participants were treated with radiation therapy with or without Zoladex® (goserelin).

Weight was assessed using the body mass index (BMI). BMI involves a comparison of weight to height (weight in kilograms divided by height in meters squared). A BMI between 18.5 and 24.9 is generally considered healthy, a BMI between 25 and 29.9 is considered overweight, and a BMI of 30 or higher is considered obese.

Information about BMI was available for 788 of the 945 study participants. Based on BMI, 31% of subjects were classified as normal weight, 51% were classified as overweight, and 18% were classified as obese.

  • Five-year risk of death from prostate cancer was 6.5% among men with a BMI less than 25, 13.1% among men with a BMI between 25 and 29.9, and 12.2% among men with a BMI of 30 or higher.
  • There was no significant relationship between BMI and death from causes other than prostate cancer.

The researchers conclude that among men with locally advanced prostate cancer, higher BMI is linked with a higher risk of death from prostate cancer. The researchers note that additional studies will be necessary to determine the reason for this link, and to explore whether weight loss after a prostate cancer diagnosis influences survival.

Reference: Efstathiou JA, Bae K, Shipley WU et al. Obesity and mortality in men with locally advanced prostate cancer. Analysis of RTOG 85-31. Cancer [early online publication]. November 12, 2007.

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