A New Prostate Cancer Risk Factor

Prostate cancer risk linked to weight in black men

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Beth Bolt, RPh

(RxWiki News) Obesity is behind a number of well-known heart health problems. In black men, it may also have a profound effect on cancer risk.

A new study found that obesity in black men may be linked to a raised risk of prostate cancer.

Wendy E. Barrington, PhD, of the University of Washington School of Nursing and the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, led this study.

"African American men have the highest incidence of prostate cancer of any racial or ethnic group in the United States," Dr. Barrington and team wrote. "Obesity may play a significant role in these disparities."

Dr. Charles R. Thomas Jr., MD, deputy editor of JAMA Oncology, wrote in an editor's note that knowing the reasons behind the increased risk in black men could be important.

"If risk factors for the development of prostate cancer can be identified, it is possible that primary care practitioners may be able to focus on risk reduction strategies," Dr. Thomas wrote.

Dr. Barrington and team used data from the Selenium and Vitamin E Cancer Prevention Trial. That trial occurred between 2001 and 2011. These researchers looked at data from nearly 3,400 black men and more than 22,000 white men.

Black men had a 58 percent increased risk of prostate cancer compared to white men.

Black men also had an 81 percent increased risk for high-grade prostate cancer compared to white men. High-grade cancers may grow and spread more quickly and require more aggressive treatment.

Dr. Barrington and team found that body mass index (BMI) was also linked to increased prostate cancer risk. BMI is a measure of body fat based on height and weight. A person with a BMI of 30 or greater is considered obese.

Black men with a BMI of less than 25 had a 28 percent increased risk of prostate cancer compared to white men. That increased risk rose to 103 percent in black men with a BMI higher than 35.

BMI was also similarly linked to increased risks of high-grade prostate cancer in black men compared to white men.

How obesity might increase prostate cancer risk in black men was unclear, Dr. Barrington and team noted. However, obesity prevention in these men may be crucial.

"... Clinicians might consider the unique contribution of obesity prevention and treatment to the health of their African American patients," Dr. Barrington and team wrote. "Such targeted efforts may contribute to reductions in prostate cancer disparities."

This study was published April 16 in JAMA Oncology.

Grants from the National Cancer Institute and the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine of the National Institutes of Health funded this study. Dr. Barrington and team disclosed no conflicts of interest.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
April 15, 2015
Last Updated:
April 20, 2015