High calorie intake linked to prostate cancer risk

March 11, 2003 in Cancer Prevention, Men's Health, Nutrition Topics in the News

High calorie intake linked to prostate cancer risk

Men who consume lots of calories, regardless of what foods they eat or their body weight, may be more likely to develop prostate cancer, study findings suggest.

Among 444 middle-aged and older men, those who reported the biggest calorie intake had a nearly four-fold higher chance of being diagnosed with prostate cancer, versus men who consumed the fewest calories.

The results are based on a fairly small number of men with the disease; 46 had been diagnosed with prostate cancer before reporting their dietary habits, while 22 were diagnosed after.

These findings support the theory that a high-calorie lifestyle is associated with higher odds of prostate cancer. The role of diet in prostate cancer has long been unclear. A number of studies have suggested that diets high in animal fat, from meat or dairy products, may help promote the disease. But other research has found no such connection.

In this study, total calories from any source--fat, protein or carbohydrates--were what mattered. The group with the highest calorie intake--typically around 2,600 calories a day--had a higher cancer risk than any of the lower-intake groups. Compared with men who reported the lowest calorie intake (half of them getting less than 1,100 calories per day), their risk was 3.8 times higher.

The association was true of both normal-weight and overweight men, according to the researchers from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland. When they looked only at men who were diagnosed after reporting their diet habits, though, the relationship between calories and prostate cancer was less strong.

Higher calorie intake may influence prostate cancer development by increasing a man's levels of certain hormones. For example, levels of circulating insulin-like growth factor-1 have been associated with prostate cancer.

Another recent study found a similar relationship between higher total calorie intake and prostate cancer. But those researchers also discovered a link between a high-fat, high-calcium diet and the risk of advanced prostate cancer, in particular.

They speculated that taking in lots of calories might boost prostate cancer risk overall, while fat- and calcium-rich diets might promote the advancement of the disease.

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