Weight and Prostate Health

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If you lose weight now, your prostate will thank you later.

If you’re looking for another reason to lose weight, an article freshly published in the International Journal of Cancer might be just the kick-in-the-pants you need.  This new study confirmed that obesity has a strong effect on a person’s chances of surviving prostate cancer.  Here are some details:

  • Men in this study were part of a long-term study called the “Diet, Cancer and Health” prospective cohort study.
  • Data were gathered from 26,944 male residents of Denmark aged 50-64 years, and researchers began collecting data in 1993.
  • Prostate cancer was slightly less common among obese men, but obese men tended to be diagnosed with more advanced prostate cancer.
  • Obese men were 48% more likely to die from prostate cancer than non-obese men.

One thing that caught my eye when I read this report was the fact that prostate cancer occurred less in obese men.  I would not be surprised if this were due to the hormonal changes that occur after significant weight gain.  Hormones are produced in several parts of the male body—a classic example would be your testes—but a lesser-known source of hormones is adipose tissue, or fat cells.  Fat cells in men turn testosterone into estradiol, which acts as estrogen in the male body.  My guess is that having a lot of fat reduces the amount of testosterone in your body, which acts as a kind of “androgen deprivation therapy.”

I’m not recommending you fight prostate cancer by pigging out and gaining weight.  If you read the facts from the study again, you’ll remember that prostate cancer prognosis is much worse for obese men.  And it’s much worse in the sense that death becomes more and more likely.  This is nothing to sneeze at.  Also, BMI is only one factor affecting your risk of prostate cancer and dying from prostate cancer.  Your diet, activity levels, body composition, and lifestyle all work together to make your body a cancer-unfriendly zone.  In addition, some short-term satisfaction from overeating is not worth the increased risk of being diagnosed with more advanced—and more dangerous—prostate cancer. 

So, my advice is this.  If you’re obese and you’ve never been diagnosed with prostate cancer, it’s still possible that you’re at risk for prostate cancer.  Because it’s possible, you might as well start your weight loss early to give yourself a leg up against the disease in case you develop it.  Prepare your body like a soldier training to fight: if cancer shows up, you’re going to want to give it a tough opponent.  Strengthen yourself every day with a diet that is low-glycemic, anti-inflammatory, and as organic as you can manage.  Healthy weight loss is a gradual response to real lifestyle changes.  If you’re trying to lose weight, stick to a plan and be patient.  This study reminds us that it’s worth it.

References

Moller, H., Roswall, N., Van Hemelrijck, M., Larsen, S. B., Cuzick, J., Holmberg, L., . . . Tjonneland, A. (2015). Prostate cancer incidence, clinical stage and survival in relation to obesity: a prospective cohort study in Denmark. Int J Cancer, 136(8), 1940-1947. doi: 10.1002/ijc.29238

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