NEW YORK, Jan. 23, 2012
New Year’s resolutions often include best intentions to lose weight and live healthier lives. This month, New York robotic prostate surgery expert, Dr. David Samadi, reminds us of the importance of overall weight and wellness, particularly as it relates to prostate cancer risks. Research shows that obese men face increased risk of developing prostate cancer and are at a disadvantage in their ability to recover from treatment.
The negative effects of excess weight and obesity have long been understood to cause health issues throughout the body. Over the years many studies explored the obesity-prostate cancer link and how diagnosis, treatment, and cure rate are impacted by a very high BMI.
Estimations show one in six U.S. men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in their lifetime. One in three U.S. men are considered obese. “There’s tremendous overlap in the incidences of these two health concerns. Despite widespread efforts to the contrary, our population continues to gain weight and the medical community continues to be challenged by those implications,” points out Dr. David Samadi, Vice Chairman, Department of Urology, and Chief of Robotics and Minimally Invasive Surgery at The Mount Sinai Medical Center.
This month, information published in the Annals of Oncology demonstrates a surprising paradox in how obesity affects a man’s risk of developing prostate cancer. Meta-analysis of fourteen-year data across 25 prostate cancer studies sought to understand the correlation between BMI and prostate cancer risk level. Researchers found a 9 percent increased risk of developing an aggressive form of prostate cancer for every 5-point BMI increase in a man. While that may be expected surprisingly, the same data showed a 6 percent decreased risk of a less aggressive form of prostate cancer with the same BMI growth rate.
“While this sounds confusing,” Dr. Samadi explained, “we need to focus our attention on the obese man’s increased risk of developing aggressive prostate cancer.”
Obesity and prostate cancer remain the central focus of many studies, as researchers continue efforts to explore the link. The Journal of Obesity recently reported higher rates of prostate cancer screening in obese men. “This is good news,” said Dr. Samadi. “Physicians recognize increased risk factors in their obese patients and are encouraging vigilance when it comes to prostate cancer PSA testing.”
Unfortunately, that may be where the good news stops. A study released in 2011, at the American Urological Association annual meeting, showed that prostate cancer advanced 3x faster in overweight patients undergoing the same treatment course as their normal-weight counterparts. Obese patients showed a 5x greater risk of metastases.
What’s more, treatment options must be weighed even more carefully in obese men. Heightened general surgical complications almost always warrant extra attention in patients with elevated BMI levels. Substantial concern regarding increased blood loss and extended surgical time exists for obese patients. In the hands of a skilled surgeon such as Dr. Samadi, robotic prostatectomy surgery has shown to be a safe and effective treatment modality for obese men battling prostate cancer.
Regardless of treatment choice, some research indicates that overweight men are 25 percent more likely to die from prostate cancer; the risk to obese men may be double that of normal-weight men.
While the expertise of the surgeon, the age of the patient, and his general health beyond obesity all play a role in determining prostate cancer outcomes, Dr. Samadi believes the risks of added weight are unnecessary. “There’s so much we can’t yet control aboutour medical path, particularly in the area of cancers,” he adds, “but what we can do is optimize our general wellness. Maintaining a healthier weight, eating better, getting active, those are all places to start.”
Weight loss can’t prevent prostate cancer from occurring, but with obesity as the second leading risk factor for developing cancer, it can certainly help. “Many health issues can be avoided through wellness,” said Dr. Samadi, “and for those that can’t, well, healthier men are certainly better equipped to withstand the rigors of prostate cancer treatment and recovery, if necessary.”Press Release