Gaining one kilo per year in your late teens could raise risk of prostate cancer

Prostate cancer: Doctor outlines symptoms you might experience

Many prostate cancers are slow-growing and may respond well to treatment, but others are aggressive and hard to treat, spreading quickly to other organs.

Worryingly, new research has identified a risk factor for the deadly condition that is no longer under your control – your weight gain in late teens and twenties.

Young people who pile on the pounds are almost a third more likely to die from prostate cancer, according to the researchers.

Weight gain in their late teens and 20s was linked to a higher risk of developing life-threatening tumours decades later.

What’s worse, just one kilogram gained a year between the ages of 17 and 29 years could increase this risk by as much as 27 percent.

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The findings are based on over a quarter of a million participants tracked for an average of 43 years. 

The research team analysed data from 258,477 men whose weight had been logged at least three times between the ages of 17 and 60 years as part of the Obesity and Disease Development Sweden study.

A total of 23,348 of these participants were diagnosed with prostate cancer and 4,790 died.

The researchers found that weight gain of one kilogram or 2.2 pounds a year between the ages of 17 and 29 years was associated with a 13 percent increased risk of aggressive prostate cancer and a 27 percent increased risk of fatal prostate cancer.

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Lead author Dr Marisa da Silva, of Lund University, Sweden, said: “Knowing more about the factors that cause prostate cancer is key to preventing it.

“The only well-established risk factors, such as increasing age, a family history of the disease and several genetic markers, are not modifiable, making it vital to identify risk factors that can be changed.”

Previous research has linked prostate cancer to excess body fat, but the reasons were unclear.

Dr da Silva said: “Previous research has implicated elevated concentrations of insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1), a hormone that is involved in cell growth and development, with an increased risk of prostate cancer.

“Levels of this hormone are raised in people with obesity and a steep increase in weight may fuel this elevation and the development of the cancer.”

The Swedish team concluded that preventing weight gain in young adulthood may reduce the risk of aggressive and fatal prostate cancer.

Dr da Silva added: “We do not know if it is the weight gain itself or the long duration of being heavier that is the main driver of the association that we see.

“Nevertheless, one must gain weight to become heavier, so preventing a steep increase in weight in young men is imperative for the prevention of prostate cancer.”

The study was presented at the European Congress on Obesity in Dublin.

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