Study: Man’s Height and Weight Can Affect Prostate Cancer Risk

CLEVELAND – September is Prostate Cancer Awareness Month.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), prostate cancer is the second most common cancer among men in the U.S., with more than 100,000 new cases diagnosed each year.

A recent study looked at height and body mass index to see how they might impact a man’s risk of developing prostate cancer.

Eric Klein, M.D., of Cleveland Clinic did not take part in the study, but said the results show that body size seems to impact the severity of the risk.

“It turns out that taller men, and men who have bigger body mass indexes are at higher risk of high grade prostate cancer, and also are at higher risk of dying of prostate cancer,” said Dr. Klein. 

Dr. Klein said previous research has shown a connection between obesity and the risk of developing high grade prostate cancer, however the relationship with the height factor has not been noted previously.

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Researchers surveyed data from more than 100,000 men and found that for every ten centimeters in height, the risk of developing an aggressive prostate cancer grew by 21 percent.

Dr. Klein said there are several possible factors at play, including the fact that more body mass means more blood, which could dilute the results of a PSA blood test, and perhaps lead to a biopsy being performed at a later time.

Also, having more fat cells in the body, whether by being obese or tall, could have an impact on how aggressively a prostate cancer grows, since fat cells make proteins that can influence cellular growth.

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Dr. Klein said while men can’t do anything about their height, it’s important to remember that they can do something about their weight to help control their risk. He reminds men that healthy habits that are good for their heart and general health are also good for prostate health.

“Maintaining a normal body mass index, exercising regularly, not over-eating calories and staying active, actually reduces your risk of getting the worst kind of prostate cancer; and if you do get it, makes it more likely that you will survive your prostate cancer,” said Dr. Klein.

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Dr. Klein believes that prostate cancer screening should be a discussion that men have regularly with their doctor.

“I think the time is absolutely right for men to have this kind of discussion with their doctor and it’s not only about, ‘should I be screened for prostate cancer?’ but, it’s what can an individual do to reduce his risk of all sorts of diseases.”

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