Obesity is associated with a worse prostate cancer prognosis among men whose tumors contain a specific genetic mutation, suggest results from a new study led by Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH), Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, and Brigham and Women’s Hospital researchers. Among prostate cancer patients whose tumors contain the mutation, they had a more than 50% increased risk of dying from prostate cancer if they were overweight or obese compared to healthy-weight men; among men whose tumors did not have the mutation, there was no effect of obesity on cancer survival. It is the first study to link data on obesity, tumor genetics, and cancer-specific survival in prostate cancer patients.

The study was published online November 30, 2013 in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

“More than 100,000 men in the U.S. are diagnosed with prostate cancer that harbors this common gene mutation. Given the high prevalence of obesity among men, this excess risk of lethal prostate cancer associated with obesity is a considerable public health issue,” said senior author Lorelei Mucci, associate professor of epidemiology at HSPH.

Prostate cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths in men, after lung cancer.

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