Men with so-called beer bellies are at a significantly higher risk of dying from prostate cancer, a new report has found.
Scientists at the University of Oxford, ranked top higher education establishment in the world this week , found that carrying excess fat around the stomach can increase the risk of a man dying from the disease by around a third.
The study, from the university’s Cancer Epidemiology Unit, was the largest to date linking being overweight with the cancer, which is the second most common cause of cancer deaths among men in the UK.
It is behind more than a quarter of all new male cancer cases, and causes almost 12,000 annual UK deaths, mostly in older men.
The decade-long analysis of data from 218,000 British males found men with guts measuring more than 40.5 inches (103 cm) were 35 per cent more likely to die from the disease than males with a waistline smaller than 35 inches (90cm).
During the follow-up period, 571 men died from prostate cancer. Those in the top 25 per cent for waist circumference were 35 per cent more likely to die of prostate cancer than men in the bottom 25 per cent.
The researchers highlighted that the increased risk was not limited to men who were clinically obese. Their findings applied to men who were within a healthy body mass index (BMI) range, but who carried excess stomach fat.
The average waist size for men in the UK is 38.5 inches (98cm). The NHS advises men to try to lose weight if their waist is over 37 inches (94cm).
Fat around the waist is dangerous because it wraps around internal organs, and is linked to metabolic and hormonal issues.
Lead author Dr Aurora Perez-Cornago said further research is needd to confirm the scientists’ findings.
She said: “We found a significant association between concentration of body fat around the belly and waist and the risk of prostate cancer death.
“But we found no clear association between total body fat and risk of prostate cancer death.
“However, a larger number of cases in this study together with studies in other populations are needed to confirm these findings.
“A high BMI increases the risk of other diseases, including other cancers, so people should consider the implications of excess body fat wherever it is found.”
The research was funded by Cancer Research UK.