Male weight loss could slash prostate cancer deaths according to new study

Obesity is contributing to hundreds of prostate cancer deaths in men, a new study suggests.

Researchers claim that over 1,300 UK lives could possibly be saved from prostate cancer every year if the average male was a healthy weight.

Obesity has ties to at least 13 other cancers such as stomach, pancreas, liver, and kidney. But scientists are only just beginning to dissect the link between prostate cancer and weight.

According to Public Health information for Scotland, prostate cancer accounts for 24.1% of all cancers diagnosed in Scottish men.

The new study, which is being shown at the European Congress on Obesity in the Netherlands and published in the journal BMC Medicine, saw academics carry out fresh research as well as review previous data on the topic.


Losing weight can be tough for a lot of people

The UK Biobank study examined data on 218,237 men, with researchers taking each male’s measurements for body mass index score (BMI), waist circumference and waist-to-hip ratio.

The subjects were monitored for an average of 12 years, with 661 men dying from prostate cancer during the follow-up period.

The health data of men who died from prostate cancer was compared to those who did not.


Through this, researchers learned that men were 7 percent more likely to die from the cancer with every five additional points on their BMI score.

And for every extra four inches (10cm) on a mans waistline, the risk of dying from prostate cancer rose by 6%.

Researchers also analysed previous studies which examined findings on nearly 20,000 men who lost their lives to prostate cancer.

These results suggested that for every five additional points on a man’s BMI score, they were 10% more likely to die from prostate cancer, and an additional 4in (10cm) waist size increased the risk by 7%.

Why it matters

While the methods behind the findings are still unknown, researchers said the study suggests that men should try to maintain a healthy weight.

Research leader Dr Aurora Perez-Cornago of the University of Oxford, said: “Knowing more about factors that increase the risk of prostate cancer is key to preventing it.

“Age, family history and black ethnicity are known factors but they are not modifiable, and so it is important to discover risk factors that it is possible to change.”

Every year in the UK around 11,900 men die from prostate cancer.

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And the researchers said that men aged 55 to 64 have an average BMI score of 28.9 – which classes them as overweight.

Based on their findings, researchers calculated that if men were able to shave five points from their BMI score an estimated 1,309 fewer prostate cancer deaths would happen every year in Britain.

And they pointed out that global health leaders recommend that men should aim to have a waist circumference of 36in (92cm).

Waist circumference is used as a measure of obesity as well as a BMI score because it indicates the amount of fat built up around a person’s organs.

Karis Betts, of Cancer Research UK, said: “While the jury is out on the relationship between prostate cancer and obesity, it’s still important to keep a healthy weight as obesity causes 13 other types of cancer.

“However, by building on these useful findings in future, scientists can start to unpick what the mechanism of prostate cancer and obesity could be, helping them to better understand who is at an increased risk of getting and dying from the disease.”


A man sleeping on his side in bed
Sleep plays a crucial role in overall health

Meanwhile, a separate study published at the conference found that poor sleep may undermine a person’s attempts to keep weight off.

Researchers from the University of Copenhagen in Denmark examined sleep duration and quality among 195 obese adults.

People who slept for less than six hours per night were found to have, on average, increased their BMI score by 1.3 points after a year compared with those who slept for more than six hours.

Similarly, poor sleepers – measured with a self-rated questionnaire – increased their BMI score by 1.2 points after a year compared with good sleepers.

The academics found that around two hours of vigorous physical activity per week can help maintain better sleep.

Another study presented at the meeting concluded that almost a quarter of obese teenagers do not know they are obese.

Data from 10 countries, including the UK, found that 24% of adolescents living with obesity do not know they are obese, yet most are worried about the effect of weight on their future health.

The survey of 13,000 teenagers, care givers and health workers found that the main barriers to losing weight for teenagers are not being able to control hunger, a lack of motivation, and enjoying eating unhealthy foods.

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