A new study conducted by researchers at the University of Oxford may have discovered a link between men’s waist sizes and the risk of death by prostate cancer.
Prostate cancer is the second most common cause of cancer-related deaths for men in the UK, resulting in almost 12,000 deaths every year.
Previous research had shown a potential link between adiposity (the amount of body fat) and the likelihood of dying from prostate cancer.
The study, led by Dr. Aurora Perez-Cornago, set out to confirm this theory and to understand how adiposity and distribution of fat in the body can lead to prostate cancer death.
The research team selected a group of over 200,000 men in the UK Biobank study who were cancer-free at the time. Over the next 10 years, they followed the health of these men using data from health administrative databases. They recorded details of body mass index (BMI), total body fat percentage, waist circumference, and waist-to-hip ratio.
The results in the follow-up period revealed that 571 men in the study died from prostate cancer.
While there was no definitive link between BMI or total fat percentage with cancer death risk, there was a clear positive link between central adiposity and risk of death from prostate cancer.
Men who had a waist circumference of more than 40 inches were 35% more likely to die from prostate cancer than those who measured in at less than 35 inches.
“We found a significant association between concentration of body fat around the belly and waist and the risk of prostate cancer death, but no clear association between total body fat and risk of prostate cancer death,” Perez-Cornago said. “However, a larger number of cases in this study together with studies in other populations are needed to confirm these findings.”
Perez-Cornago also added that, while there was no association between BMI and an increased risk of cancer death, there are still other risks associated with a higher BMI.
“A high BMI increases the risk of other diseases, including other types of cancer, so people should consider the implications of excess body fat wherever it is found in the body,” she said.
She said her advice to men is to exercise and maintain a healthy diet to lower their waist circumference. It could save their lives someday.