Men who are moderately obese in middle age and later life may be more likely to develop advanced or aggressive prostate cancer, according to an observational study of more than 830,000 men in the Annals of Oncology.
Those who had a body mass index (BMI) above 35 between ages 50 and 64 had the highest likelihood of advanced prostate cancer or prostate cancer death, compared to all other weight categories. Being obese in early adulthood, in contrast, was not linked with subsequent advanced prostate cancer. (To find out what your BMI is, go to the CDC's Adult BMI Calculator.)
In addition, men with a very large waist circumference (above 43 inches), a measure of abdominal fat, were more likely to have high-grade (aggressive) prostate cancer or die from prostate cancer than men with a waist circumference below 35 inches. Some earlier research has linked higher body weight to increased prostate cancer risk, but this is the first to show an association between abdominal (visceral) fat and the cancer.
While this study found that risk of aggressive prostate cancer began to rise at a (very high) waist size of 43 inches, other health risks associated with excess abdominal fat, such as heart disease, start to go up at a much lower circumference. Above 40 inches in men (35 in women) is considered “high risk.”
This article first appeared in the UC Berkeley Wellness Letter.
Also see Measuring Body Weight: Beyond BMI.