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The Cyclic Relationship between Obesity and Prostate Cancer

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The Cyclic Relationship between Obesity and Prostate Cancer

— By Andrea M. Pampaloni, Ph.D.

Prostate cancer is the second most common and most dangerous cancer in men; and for 43 percent of adult men with obesity, the risks can be great. Although continued research is necessary to identify the mechanisms linking obesity and prostate cancer, current key findings suggest:

  • While the obesity rate is high for both black and white men (49.6 percent vs. 42.2 percent, respectively), there is an inverse relationship between obesity and the overall risk of prostate cancer among white men, though it is positively linked for black men.
  • The risk of high-grade prostate cancer was much strong in black men than white men (81 percent vs. 33 percent, respectively).
  • Obesity is linked to aggressive prostate cancer.
  • Among men with obesity who have aggressive prostate cancer, there is a higher risk of cancer-specific mortality.

Although several studies posit a link between abdominal obesity and increased risk of aggressive prostate cancer, findings regarding obesity and lower overall prostate cancer rates are inconclusive. One reason for this is because men with overweight or obesity have larger prostates and greater prostate volume, which could confound accurate early diagnosis. This suggests that assumptions about the links between weight and overall prostate cancer risk could be underestimated. The lack of early diagnosis also could explain why the link to more aggressive prostate cancer is so high.

Other conditions associated with obesity, such as elevated insulin levels and oxidative stress, add to prostate cancer risk1. And because obesity also causes excessive inflammation, it further contributes to the progression of prostate cancer, which then stimulates adipokines. This creates an unforgiving cycle of obesity increasing cancer risk and cancer risk contributing to obesity.

The Role of a VLCD to Minimize Risk

Achieving and maintaining a healthy weight limits risk factors for prostate and other types of cancer. Losing weight also can help slow cancer growth or prevent it from metastasizing. To treat obesity associated with increased risk of this and other types of cancer, caloric restriction has been found to improve the efficacy of anticancer therapies and reduce the side effects from treatments2. A Very Low Calorie Diet (VLCD) program, such as New Direction, offers caloric restriction and is well-tolerated. It also ensures patients receive necessary nutrients under close medical supervision. When combined with active follow-up and behavioral therapy, VLCDs are highly effective for long-term weight maintenance success, which also reduced the risk of prostate cancer.


  1. The Role of Oxidative Stress and Hormones in Controlling Obesity
  2. When Less May be More: Calorie Restriction and Response to Cancer Therapy

About the Author: Dr. Andrea Pampaloni has over 20 years of communication experience across corporate, academic, nonprofit and government sectors. She provides research and writing services on a range of business issues and industry-specific topics to prepare white papers, articles, proposals, presentations, technical content, and speaking points, as well as marketing-communications content such as blogs, website content, newsletters, news releases and award submissions. Dr. Pampaloni’s research findings have been presented at national and international conferences and published in peer-reviewed journals, and she is a ghostwriter for three books, a Forbes article, and several corporate blogs.

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