Obesity and Prostate Cancer

  • Yin Cao
  • Edward GiovannucciEmail author
Part of the Recent Results in Cancer Research book series (RECENTCANCER, volume 208)


Prostate cancer is a complex, heterogeneous disease. Factors related to detection, particularly PSA screening, further increase heterogeneity in the manifestation of the disease. It is thus not possible to provide a simple summary of the relationship between obesity and prostate cancer. Findings on obesity, often defined using body mass index (BMI), and total prostate cancer risk have been mixed; however, obesity is relatively consistently associated with a higher risk of aggressive prostate cancer, with aggressiveness defined in various ways (e.g., advanced stage, fatal, poorer prognosis in men with prostate cancer). Many methodologic issues (e.g., influence of PSA screening, detection bias and treatment) need to be thoroughly considered in both existing and future etiologic and prognostic research. Biological mechanisms supporting the link are under investigation, but may involve insulin and IGF axis, sex steroid hormones and alterations in metabolism. Some promising data suggest that molecular sub-types of prostate cancer may offer insights into etiology, but further study is required. A full evaluation of body fatness and weight change over the life course would not only provide insights to the underlying mechanisms but also allow more effective interventions.


Obesity Prostate cancer Prostate-specific antigen screening Heterogenity 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Clinical and Translational Epidemiology UnitMassachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical SchoolBostonUSA
  2. 2.Department of NutritionHarvard T. H. Chan School of Public HealthBostonUSA
  3. 3.Department of EpidemiologyHarvard T. H. Chan School of Public HealthBostonUSA
  4. 4.Channing Division of Network MedicineBrigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical SchoolBostonUSA

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