Men with higher adiposity (body fat) are at increased risk of fatal prostate cancer, according to new research.

The study, which is being presented at the European Congress on Obesity in the Netherlands and published in the journal BMC Medicine, is one of the first large-scale studies to consider the link between adiposity and fatal prostate cancer.

More than 2.5 million men were included in the study

Researchers from the University of Oxford conducted a meta-analysis of 19 studies including 2.5 million men, 200,000 of whom were from the UK Biobank study.

All of the men were free from any type of cancer when first recruited, and were then followed-up for a set number of years, with the number of deaths from prostate cancer recorded.

Body fat was measured at the start of each study using four different measures: BMI, wait circumference, wait to hip ratio and body fat percentage.

A five-point increase in BMI increased the risk of dying from prostate cancer by 10%

The research revealed that every five-point increase in BMI increased the risk of dying from prostate cancer by 10%.

Central adiposity (fat around the belly and waist) was also found to significantly increase the risk of fatal prostate cancer, with every 10cm increase in wait circumference increasing the odds by 7%.

For this reason, the researchers estimate that if the average BMI of men aged between 55 – 64 years old in the UK was reduced to be within the ideal range, there would be around 1,300 fewer prostate cancer deaths each year.

“Another reason for men to try to maintain a healthy weight”

Since prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men in the UK causing more than 11,500 deaths each year, the researchers say there is an urgent need to implement intervention measures and draw attention to the link between obesity and cancer.

Dr Aurora Perez-Cornago, who led the study, said: “More research is needed to determine if the association is biologically driven or due to differences in detection.

“While some biological mechanisms have been proposed they are not well-established yet, and it is also possible that the disease may be harder to detect in men with obesity, leading to it being diagnosed later when it is harder to treat.

“In either case, our latest results provide another reason for men to try to maintain a healthy weight.”