Prostate cancer, a prevalent tumor in men with an average diagnosis age of around 70, has long been associated with factors such as age, race, family history, lifestyle, and genetic changes. However, a groundbreaking nutritional study conducted by researchers at MD Anderson Cancer Center Madrid is shedding light on the profound connection between obesity and prostate cancer.
The study, which spanned four months and included 103 male patients averaging 62 years old, revealed a staggering 87% of those diagnosed with prostate cancer were obese. Dr. Carlos Núñez, head of the Urological Surgery Service, emphasises, "The exact role that diet plays in the development of prostate cancer is unclear, although several factors have been investigated."
Among the participants, 13% exhibited sarcopenic obesity, boasting a Body Mass Index (BMI) ratio greater than 31 kg/m2. Additionally, 23% had a previous diagnosis of type 2 diabetes, with 9% undergoing metformin treatment and 8.5% managing dyslipidemia.
Pedro Robledo, head of the Clinical Nutrition and Dietetics Unit, explains, "Different studies provide information on the location of abdominal fat and tumor disease, as well as other associated risk factors such as type 2 diabetes and dyslipidemia. All this translates into a state of continuous cellular inflammation that generates changes in the cellular and genetic structure, producing mechanisms of tumor proliferation."
To evaluate the prevalence of these events and determine the nutritional status of newly diagnosed patients, anthropometric procedures, including weight/height ratio evaluation, abdominal circumference measurements, skin folds assessment, and imaging parameters indicating abdominal fat and muscle mass, were employed. Computed tomography (CT) played a crucial role in this diagnostic process.
The study revealed that the average caloric intake exceeded 2,200 kcal, with a diet high in saturated fats and sugars, despite needs not exceeding 1,700 kcal. Over 80% of patients regularly consumed alcohol, often including a high-alcohol beverage in almost every meal. Moreover, a significant percentage were smokers.
Pedro Robledo emphasises, "With this study, we wanted to highlight the importance of nutritional assessment within protocols. An aspect that, on many occasions, is left aside to situations after diagnosis or when support becomes more difficult."
He stresses the necessity to understand individuals' eating habits to improve treatment outcomes, dispelling the misconception that cancer patients inevitably lose weight. Moving forward, the second phase of the study aims to investigate how obese patients respond to treatments, exploring whether obesity exacerbates treatment outcomes and if post-surgery hormonal blockade induces further weight gain.
"In breast cancer and ovarian cancer, gaining weight during treatment poses a risk of relapse; we don't know if this is also true in prostate cancer. This is what we will try to find out in the second part of the study, although what we have done previously has been to study a situation that was known but not evaluated so far in our center. Now we have the data that indicate that it is similar to other studies, and we will try to find a solution," concludes the nutrition specialist.
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Source: La Sexta