Overweight Men Have Increased Prostate Cancer Risk

Carrying excess weight isn’t good for women, and not for men either.


I know that when it comes to healthcare, the ones who are likely to pay attention to health risks for men are the women in their lives.

There is definitely more motivation for men to shed pounds if they’re overweight: It could lower their risk for advanced prostate cancer.

Latest figures showing there are around 57,000 new prostate cancer cases and 12,000 deaths each year in the UK.

The increased risk

Jeanine Genkinger, an associate professor of epidemiology at Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health and researchers analysed data from 15 studies that included a total of nearly 831,000 men, including nearly 52,000 who’d been diagnosed with prostate cancer.

Having a BMI (body mass index — an estimate of body fat based on height and weight) above the range that’s considered healthy (21-25) during middle to late adulthood was associated with the highest risk for advanced prostate cancer.

“These study results show that risk for advanced prostate cancer can be decreased by maintaining a ‘healthy’ weight, which is in line with guidelines by the American Cancer Society and World Cancer Research Fund,” said Professor Genkinger.

The researchers also found that a larger waist size was associated with an increased risk of advanced prostate cancer and death.

Previous studies have linked higher BMI with an increased risk of prostate cancer, but this is the first to connect larger waist size with increased risk of the disease, the authors said.

Why men need to be increasingly concerned

The above study was published March 4, 2020 in the Annals of Oncology and new data shows that for the first time in history, prostate cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in the UK.

Latest figures for cancer diagnoses in England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales, when combined, bring the total number of prostate cancer diagnoses in the UK to 57,192, exceeding those of breast, lung and bowel cancers.

This has combined with an ageing population. Men are living longer, prostate cancer mainly affects men over 50, and your risk increases with age.

Prostate cancer diagnoses have more than doubled over the last 20 years alone. There are now around 400,000 men in the UK living with or after the disease.

The new figures show that a higher percentage of men’s cancers were caught at the locally advanced stage (stage III), when the cancer has started to break out of the prostate, or has spread to the area just outside the prostate, but not to distant organs.

Prostate cancer caught at this stage is far more treatable than advanced prostate cancer. This shows that increased referrals have the potential to save many more lives.

Risk factors

being over 50 is certainly the largest risk factor, as is being overweight, or having an immediate family member such as father or brother who has had prostate cancer.

Most men with early prostate cancer don’t have any signs or symptoms.

One reason for this is the way the cancer grows. You usually only get early symptoms if the cancer grows near the tube you urinate through (the urethra) and presses against it, changing the way you urinate.

But because prostate cancer usually starts to grow in a different part (usually the outer part) of the prostate, early prostate cancer doesn’t often press on the urethra and cause symptoms.

If you do notice changes in the way you urinate, this is more likely to be a sign of a very common non-cancerous problem called an enlarged prostate, or another health problem.

But it’s still a good idea to get it checked out.

Helpful information:

Obviously the first starting point is to tackle any excess weight through a healthy combination of diet and exercise and it may be that bioidentical progesterone could also have a role to play.

So while there has been no specific research done with regards to natural progesterone usage in men that we are aware of, there have been interesting reports from patients with prostate cancer which has been diagnosed both by blood test and biopsy.

These patients have found that, as a result of using natural progesterone for about a year, the levels of PSA (Prostatic Specific Antigen) in their blood have decreased to normal levels.

The mechanism for this apparently beneficial effect of natural progesterone is not clear but may relate to progesterone being a precursor of testosterone.

Men as they get older have a tendency to produce less testosterone and more di-hydrotestosterone, which seems to have an over stimulating effect on cells. Progesterone could have the effect of neutralizing the di-hydrotestosterone, which would thus help to maintain testosterone levels.

It is also thought that progesterone may have an effect on the genetic coding of some cells, and in this prevents the development of abnormal cells.

John Lee, MD was the first to use bioidentical progesterone on his female patients but he also believed it to be helpful in prostate cancer.

Anyone with any concerns can speak to Prostate Cancer UK’s specialist nurses on 0800 074 8383 or visit prostatecanceruk.org