Obese Men Combat Prostate Cancer Paradoxically
Obese men with a form of advanced prostate cancer survive longer than overweight and normal-weight patients, new research has found. Although obesity is usually associated with an increased risk of death from many cancers and some other chronic diseases, there is some evidence in a few cancers of a survival advantage for patients with a high body mass index.
This phenomenon is known as the ‘obesity paradox.'
The study, presented today at the European Association of Urology Congress on July 8, 2021, followed more than 1,500 patients over three years. Patients classed as obese – with a BMI over 30 – had a 10% higher survival rate than thinner men.
At San Raffaele University in Italy and Mount Sinai Hospital in New York, NY, Alberto Martini and colleagues wanted to test whether the ‘obesity paradox’ held for patients with metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer – an advanced form of the disease that no longer responds to testosterone lowering treatments.
”Nevertheless, we would not recommend weight gain to anyone with this or another disease. Obesity is a risk factor for many cancers and other diseases, and patients should always aim for a healthy BMI of 18 to 24.”
Professor Peter Albers, from Düsseldorf University, who chairs the EAU Scientific Congress Office, said: “There are many possible explanations for the association of body weight with a positive outcome in metastatic cancers. For example, it might be that patients with higher BMI can tolerate the toxicity of the treatments and their side effects better; in prostate cancer, it might be due to the protective impact of hormones found in tissue fat; and it is known that healthy men with slightly higher BMI have a higher overall life expectancy compared to very slim ones.
“However, at the moment, these are just hypotheses. Further research is needed to identify the biological mechanism behind these different outcomes. Until that mechanism is proven, we can’t recommend any change to treatment for patients with advanced prostate cancer.”