, Volume 17, Issue 1, pp 5-9

Are Findings from Studies of Obesity and Prostate Cancer Really in Conflict?

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Recent studies on the association between obesity and prostate cancer appear to be in conflict. A recent prospective cohort study reported that the incidence of prostate cancer was lower among obese men under the age of 60 years and among those men with a family history of prostate cancer. Similarly, a case–control study found obesity was inversely associated with prostate cancer risk in men aged 40–64 years. However, several prospective cohort studies found that obese men are more likely to die from prostate cancer than non-obese men. Finally, two recent studies found that among men with prostate cancer, obese men were more likely to have a biochemical progression after surgery. We postulate that by closely examining the comparison groups used in these studies, these findings may, in fact, be in agreement. Specifically, this paradox within the literature may result from the possibility that obesity influences the development of aggressive (i.e., higher stage, higher grade, recurrence, death) and non-aggressive disease differently. We suggest that obesity may reduce the risk of non-aggressive disease but simultaneously increase the risk of aggressive disease. Finally, additional methodological issues are discussed that investigators need to be aware of to be able to draw inferences across studies of obesity and prostate cancer outcomes.

Supported by the NIH Specialized Programs of Research Excellence Grant P50CA58236 (EAP) and P50CA90381 (EG), the Department of Defense, Prostate Cancer Research Program, PC030666 (SJF) and DAMD 17-03-1-0273 (EAP), Fund for Research and Progress in Urology (EAP), and the American Foundation for Urological Disease/American Urological Association Education and Research Scholarship Award (SJF). Views and opinions of, and endorsements by the author(s) do not reflect those of the US Army or the Department of Defense