The Link Between Excess Weight and Prostate Cancer


Obesity—defined as having a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or more— is known to increase the risk of some types of cancer as well as cancer deaths. It is unclear whether obesity influences the development of prostate cancer specifically.

Several studies have found that obese men have higher-grade prostate cancers at diagnosis and a higher risk of cancer recurrence after radical prostatectomy and radiation treatment than men who are not obese. Some researchers hypothesize that obesity may contribute to cancer progression by promoting inflammation and altering blood levels of hormones that enhance cancer growth.

According to a recent poll, about 60 percent of overweight people don’t realize they are carrying excess weight. Other researchers found that 85 percent of people with obesity don’t recognize that their weight puts them in the category of being obese.

The standard method for determining whether you are overweight or obese is to calculate your BMI, a measurement of your weight as it relates to your height. It correlates strongly with the amount of body fat you have, although it does not measure body fat directly.

National guidelines define overweight as a BMI of 25 to 29.9 and obesity as a BMI of 30 or greater. Severe obesity is a BMI of 40 or greater.

BMI is calculated by multiplying your weight in pounds by 703, then dividing the result by the square of your height in inches. So, if you were 140 pounds and 5 feet, 4 inches tall, you’d multiply 140 × 703 (which equals 98,420). Then you’d divide this result by 64 inches squared, or 4,096 (98,420 ÷ 4,096). In this case, your BMI would be 24. You can also use an online BMI calculator, such as the one provided by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (tinyurl. com/WP-calculate-BMI).