With Father’s Day coming up this Sunday, there are bound to be more than a few jokes flying about “dad bods”; the soft roundness middle-aged men often acquire after settling down and starting a family. But carrying too much weight in the mid-section or thighs can be a significant risk factor for an aggressive form of prostate cancer.
According to a recent study, published in Cancer, a journal of the American Cancer Society, obesity and specifically visceral fat deep in the abdomen and just beneath the skin on the thighs is associated with a higher risk for advanced and fatal prostate cancer. Researchers from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health analyzed body fat distribution in 1,832 Icelandic men over a period of 13 years.
During the course of the study, 172 men developed prostate cancer and 31 of these died from the disease. The distribution of fat, rather than body mass index, was a stronger indicator in the progression of prostate cancer. The World Cancer Research Fund states that there is strong evidence to support the link between obesity and the risk of advanced prostate cancer. Men with more body fat have lower PSA (prostate-specific antigen) levels because, with a greater blood volume, the PSA is diluted making it more difficult to use this measurement to detect prostate cancer in obese men. Overweight men also tend to avoid visiting the doctor and wait longer to seek treatment. Studies have also found that obesity alters the metabolism of sex hormones which could affect the growth of prostate cancer.
Focusing on diet and exercise to shed excess weight is an important way older men can help reduce their risk of prostate cancer. Eating a healthy diet rich in fruits and vegetables, while lowering fats and dairy and getting 30 minutes of exercise each day can help lower the risk of developing prostate cancer. Learn more about prostate cancer prevention by following this link to the Mayo Clinic website.