Pre-Treatment Obesity May Increase Risk for Death in Men With Prostate Cancer

Men with obesity before receiving treatment for prostate cancer may have an increased risk for death from any cause and from heart-related issues, according to recent study findings.

This increased risk was also observed in patients with post-treatment weight gain, the data demonstrated.

“The findings of our study and other similar studies may help health care workers and patients understand the risks associated with obesity after a diagnosis with prostate cancer,” said Kassandra Dindinger-Hill, a research associate in adult urology at the University of Utah and a fourth-year medical student at the University of Minnesota Medical School in Minneapolis, in an interview with CURE®.

“Our hope is that with more research in this area, clinicians will be better equipped to counsel patients on modifiable lifestyle factors in the years following a diagnosis with prostate cancer to improve survival outcomes.”

Dindinger-Hill explained that prostate cancer is common in men and is the second-leading cause of cancer-related death, although progress is being made to increase the number of prostate cancer survivors.

“With advancements in prostate cancer treatment, the number of prostate cancer survivors continues to grow,” she said. “Our work evaluating the relationship between obesity in the years following a prostate cancer diagnosis and death is important to help inform the growing population of prostate cancer survivors.”

In this current study, researchers assessed data from 5,077 men (median age, 64.3 years) with prostate cancer. Researchers calculated relative body weight change over a median of 5.02 years.

At the beginning of this study, 35.3% of the patients were overweight and 12.87% had obesity. Obesity before starting prostate cancer treatment was significantly associated with all-cause mortality and heart disease-specific mortality. Of note, obesity after completing treatment had similar significant increased in the risk for all-cause death and heart disease-related death.

Patients who gained greater than 5% of their body weight after treatment had an increased risk for heart disease-related death compared with those whose weight remained stable. This increased risk was not observed for all-cause and prostate cancer-specific death.

“We interpreted our findings to mean that obese patients with a history of prostate cancer may be more likely to die from obesity-related complications — such as cardiovascular disease — than from their prostate cancer,” Dindinger-Hill said.

She added that patients should be counseled on the importance of maintaining a healthy lifestyle through exercise and healthy eating while undergoing cancer treatments. Studies are currently being conducted in this area to further the space.

“More research is underway to evaluate specific lifestyle factors, such as diet and exercise, and how these factors relate to survivorship in prostate cancer patients,” Dindinger-Hill said.

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