Weight gain and prostate cancer: the link you need to know

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Understanding the Link

According to research presented at the European Congress on Obesity (ECO) in Dublin, Ireland, weight gain during late teens and early 20s can increase a man’s risk of dying from prostate cancer in later life.

The study analyzed data from over 250,000 men in Sweden and found that weight gain throughout a man’s life was associated with developing prostate cancer overall, as well as aggressive and fatal prostate cancer.

The link with aggressive and fatal prostate cancer was most strongly associated with weight gain between the ages of 17 and 29.

Prostate Cancer: A Global Concern

Prostate cancer is the second most common cancer in men worldwide, with more than 1.4 million cases diagnosed annually.

In Sweden, it’s the most common cancer in men with 10,000 cases per year and is the leading cause of cancer death in males, with 2,000 deaths annually.

In the UK, prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men, with approximately 52,000 cases a year, and is the second most common cause of cancer death in males, with almost 12,000 deaths a year.

The Research

Dr. Marisa da Silva and her team from Lund University, Malmö, Sweden, analyzed data from the Obesity and Disease Development Sweden (ODDS) study.

This study involved 258,477 men whose weight had been measured at least three times between the ages of 17 and 60.

The participants, who were free of prostate cancer when they enrolled in ODDS from 1963-2014, were followed until 2019.

During this period, 23,348 participants were diagnosed with prostate cancer, and 4,790 men died from the disease.

The research revealed that weight gain was associated with both the development of prostate cancer and its aggressiveness.

Weight gain of over half a kg (1.1lb) per year compared to stable weight across a man’s life was linked to a 10% higher risk of aggressive prostate cancer and a 29% higher risk of fatal prostate cancer.

This correlation was particularly driven by weight gain between the ages of 17 and 29 years.

The Hypothesis

Dr. da Silva suggests that the observed association may be related to elevated concentrations of insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1), a hormone involved in cell growth and development.

Levels of this hormone are increased in people with obesity, and a steep increase in weight may contribute to this elevation and the development of prostate cancer.

Conclusion and Implications

The study concluded that preventing weight gain in young adulthood might reduce the risk of aggressive and fatal prostate cancer.

Dr. da Silva added, “We do not know if it is the weight gain itself or the long duration of being heavier that is the main driver of the association that we see.

Nevertheless, one must gain weight to become heavier, so preventing a steep increase in weight in young men is imperative for the prevention of prostate cancer.”

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