Seattle researchers have linked obesity in Black men to a great increase risk of prostate cancer; this includes both low-grade (slow-growing) and high-grade (fast-growing) cancers. In the United States alone, Black men have the highest rates of prostate cancer related deaths. The study published on April 16, 2015 in the JAMA Oncology states the link between obesity and prostate cancer among White men was less concise.
The study wasn’t originally searching for differences between Black and White men with cancer but when the initial study of 3,398 Black men and 22,673 White men who particpated in the 2001 select trial to determine whether selenium and vitamin E supplements could help prevent prostate cancer was stopped early because analysis suggested the supplements did not work and might be harmful, the study developed into an obesity study.
During a follow-up period of about 5 ½ years, the study showed that 270 Black men and 1,453 White men developed prostate cancer. The study found a 58% increased risk in Black men for prostate cancer compared with White men, with obese Black men having a greater risk at developing prostate cancer.
Obese Black men, those with a body mass index BMI (body mass index) of 35 or greater, were more likely to develop prostate cancer than those with a BMI below 25, which is considered to represent a healthy weight. Black men with a BMI below 25 had a 28% increased prostate cancer risk compared to White men in the same weight group. Black men with a BMI of at least 35 had a 103% increased prostate cancer risk compared to White men in the same weight group.
Obesity among Black men was linked to a greater risk of both low-grade (slow-growing) and high-grade (fast-growing) prostate cancer. In White men the relationship was more complex; obesity was linked with a lower risk of low-grade cancer but a higher risk of high-grade cancer. Researchers define low-grade prostate cancer as a Gleason score below 7 and high-grade prostate cancer as a Gleason score of 7 or above. A Gleason score is reached by looking at a sample of prostate cancer cells and comparing it to normal prostate cells; the higher the score, the more different the cells in the cancerous tissue look from normal prostate tissue.
The study pointed out the complicated links between obesity and prostate cancer, and that the increased risks in Black men do likely stem from social as well as biological factors. Research is suggesting that only time will reveal whether weight loss in men who are obese would actually reduce their prostate cancer risk.
Being obese is known to being linked to a higher risk of other cancers; like colon, esophagus, kidney, and pancreatic cancer, and also for heart disease and diabetes. The American Cancer Society recommends eating right and getting enough physical activity to help stay at a healthy weight. Losing even a small amount of weight has life-saving health benefits, but do consult with a professional to lose weight correctly.