Men who have denser bones may have a higher risk for prostate cancer, according to a study published in the journal British Journal of Urology International (2010 Jul;106(1):28-31).

To investigate the possible connection between bone characteristics and prostate cancer development and metastasis, Stacy Loeb, MD, a resident in the Department of Urology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, and her colleagues used data from a long-term study that has tracked various health-related information for hundreds of Baltimore-area participants since 1958. Data on the bone mineral density of 519 men were collected and then used by the researchers to see which men were eventually diagnosed with prostate cancer.

Results of the study revealed that the 76 men in their study who went on to develop prostate cancer had bone density that remained significantly higher as they aged compared with those who remained cancer-free. In addition, further examination showed that the 18 men who developed the high-risk form of the disease retained the highest bone density, but the researchers cautioned that the number of patients is too small to make any final conclusions about bone features and metastatic disease.

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According to the paper, Dr. Loeb and her colleagues say that their findings don’t mean that bone density scans should be used as a screening tool for prostate cancer. Rather, their goal was to better understand the link between prostate cancer and bone. The results suggest that the same factors that influence bone density, such as sex hormones or growth factors in bone, may also be spurring prostate cancer to develop and metastasize, the authors said.