PICTURE: INRS Professor Marie-Élise Parent is a specialist in cancer epidemiology and prostate cancer. view More
Photo credit: Christian Fleury (INRS)
Prostate cancer is the most common type of cancer in Canadian men and the third leading cause of cancer death. Abdominal obesity appears to be associated with a higher risk of developing aggressive prostate cancer. This connection was demonstrated in a study conducted by Professor Marie-Élise Parent of the Institut national de la recherche scientifique (INRS) and published in the journal Cancer Causes & Control.
Over the years, several studies have shown that obesity is a major risk factor for prostate cancer. To further investigate the relationship between disease incidence and body mass, the research team examined data from a survey carried out between 2005 and 2012 in Montréal. The researchers found that abdominal obesity was linked to an increased risk of aggressive cancer.
“Identifying the risk factors for aggressive cancer is a major advancement in health research because it is the most difficult to treat,” said Prof. Parent. “These data create a way to work preventively by more closely monitoring men with this risk factor,” she added.
Abdominal and general obesity
The actual distribution of body fat seems to be a major factor in the development of the disease: the effects on a person’s health can vary depending on whether the fat is concentrated around the abdomen or distributed throughout the body. According to Éric Vallières, a PhD student at the Université de Montréal who is doing her PhD at the INRS and is the lead author of the study, “abdominal obesity causes hormonal and metabolic fluctuations that can encourage the growth of hormone-dependent cancer cells, a decrease in testosterone as well as a chronic inflammation condition associated with the development of aggressive tumors. “
General obesity did not show the same correlation as belly fat. This can result from a detection error and possible biological effects. “In overweight people, the protein used for the early detection of prostate cancer, the prostate-specific antigen (PSA), is diluted in the blood,” says Vallières. “This hemodilution makes cancer more difficult to detect.”
The research team believes that priority should be given to studies of the timing of exposure to obesity throughout life and that a more in-depth analysis of body fat distribution could provide better insight into the risks of developing prostate cancer.
About the study
The article “General and abdominal obesity trajectories across adulthood, and risk of prostate cancer: results from the PROtEuS study, Montreal, Canada” by Éric Vallières, Miceline Mésidor, Marie-Hélène Roy-Gagnon, Hugues Richard and Marie-Élise Parent was published published in Cancer Causes & Control in April. The study was funded by the Canadian Cancer Society, the Cancer Research Society, the Fonds de recherche du Québec-Santé (FRQS), the Ministère de l’Économie et de l’Innovation, and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR).
The INRS is a university devoted exclusively to research and education at the university level. Since its inception in 1969, the INRS has played an active role in the economic, social, and cultural development of Québec, and ranks first in Québec and Canada in terms of research intensity. INRS consists of four interdisciplinary research and training centers in Québec City, Montréal, Laval and Varennes with expertise in strategic sectors: Eau Terre Environnement, Énergie Matériaux Télécommunications, Urbanization Culture Société and Armand-Frappier Santé Biotechnologie. The INRS community includes more than 1,500 students, postdocs, faculty members, and staff.
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