Men who put on weight before 30 more likely to die of prostate cancer: study

Cancer cells of the prostate can be seen in this picture. — Unsplash/File

A recent study based on decade-long data found a link that males who gain weight about 12.7 kilogrammes before turning 30 are more likely to succumb to prostate cancer than those who maintained their weight in healthy ranges during their teenage years.

According to researchers, the chances of obese men dying from prostate cancer are 27%; however, this research is yet to be peer-reviewed.

An analysis presented during the 30th European Congress on Obesity, said: “Those who gained at least half a kilogram a year (1.1lbs) from 17 to 60 had a 10% greater risk of aggressive prostate cancer and a 29% greater risk of fatal prostate cancer.”

A similar risk is also present if the weight is gained more steeply.

“A man putting on 13kg [28lbs] between the ages of 17 and 29 is associated with a 13% increased risk of aggressive prostate cancer and a 27% increased risk of fatal prostate cancer.”

Dr Marisa da Silva, of the Department of translational medicine at Lund University, said: “Knowing more about the factors that cause prostate cancer is key to preventing it.”

“We do not know if it is the weight gain itself or the long duration of being heavier that is the main driver of the association that we see. Nevertheless, one must gain weight to become heavier, so preventing a steep increase in weight in young men is imperative for the prevention of prostate cancer.”

The prostate is the most common type of cancer in men and nearly every year, 12,000 men die of this disease in the UK alone. Though it is slow-growing and can be harmless in a lifetime, eight in 10 men diagnosed in England live for at least 10 years after diagnosis, with other types more aggressive and harder to treat.

Prior research indicated a strong connection between obesity and the risk of aggressive prostate cancer.

Da Silva said: “Previous research has implicated elevated concentrations of insulin-like growth factor-1 [IGF-1], a hormone that is involved in cell growth and development, with an increased risk of prostate cancer,” while adding “levels of this hormone are raised in people with obesity and a steep increase in weight may fuel this elevation and the development of cancer.”

Simon Grieveson, assistant director of research at Prostate Cancer UK, said: “Several studies have indicated a possible correlation between being overweight and aggressive prostate cancer, and this study builds on those by suggesting that weight gain earlier in life is associated with an increased risk of dying from the disease.”

“While these results are intriguing, more research is needed to fully understand the biological link between obesity and prostate cancer.”

“Maintaining a healthy weight can protect against many cancers, but it is important to remember that prostate cancer can affect men of all weights, shapes, and sizes. Men over 50, Black men, and men with a family history are at highest risk of the disease and should speak to their doctor if they have concerns.”

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