Men with larger waists more likely to die of prostate cancer, says study

A new study points to a connection between a larger waist size and an increased risk of dying from prostate cancer (Picture: Shutterstock / olesea vetrila)

Men with larger waists are at a greater risk of dying from prostate cancer, a study of more than 200,000 men in the UK has said.

Researchers from the Cancer Epidemiology Unit, Nuffield Department of Population Health, at the University of Oxford, recruited 218,225 cancer-free men between the ages of 40 and 69, and monitored their health for an average of 10 years.

They looked at data covering BMI, total body fat percentage, waist circumference, and waist-to-hip ratio.

During this period, 571 of these men died from prostate cancer, and researchers discovered that those men in the top 25% for waist circumference – meaning more than 103cm or 40 inches, were 35% more likely to die of prostate cancer than men in the bottom 25%, meaning their waists were less than 90cm or 35 inches.

Meanwhile those in the top 25% for waist-to-hip ratio, another measurement of how fat is located around the mid-section, were 34% more likely to die than men in the bottom 25%.

Researchers discovered that there was no clear association of BMI or total fat percentage with risk, pointing to a link specifically between weight in the mid-section and prostate cancer deaths.

Signs and symptoms of prostate cancer:

  • passing urine more often
  • getting up during the night to empty your bladder (nocturia)
  • difficulty passing urine – this includes a weaker flow, not emptying
  • your bladder completely and straining when starting to empty your bladder
  • feeling the sudden, urgent need to urinate
  • blood or semen in your urine

Dr Aurora Perez-Cornago, who led the study, said: ‘We found a significant association between concentration of body fat around the belly and waist and the risk of prostate cancer death, but 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 types of cancer, so people should consider the implications of excess body fat wherever it is found in the body.’

Dr Perez-Cornago explained that waist circumference and waist-to-hip ratio were a better marker of ‘visceral fat’ than BMI, noting that weight gain around the tummy is ‘the most dangerous’ because ‘this fat is located around the vital organs’.

‘It’s associated with metabolic and hormonal dysfunction and this is what may play a role in prostate cancer progression,’ she added.

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