The risk of dying from prostate cancer is increased by metabolic syndrome, whose characteristics include high blood pressure (BP), blood sugar, blood lipids, and body mass index (BMI). The results of this study suggest that public health recommendations regarding diet and lifestyle to prevent heart disease and diabetes may also decrease a man’s likelihood of dying from prostate cancer.

Previously, researchers had little knowledge about possible links between metabolic factors and men’s risk of a diagnosis of or dying from prostate cancer. This study analyzed data from 289,866 men enrolled in the Metabolic Syndrome and Cancer Project.

During the average follow-up time of 12 years, prostate cancer was diagnosed in 6,673 men and 961 died from the disease. The risk of dying from prostate cancer was increased by 36% for those in the highest BMI category and by 62% for those in the highest BP category. Further, when a composite score of all metabolic factors was compared, men with a high score were more likely to die from prostate cancer.

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No evidence was found for a link between high levels of metabolic factors and a man’s risk of developing prostate cancer. A link was revealed between these factors and risk of dying from the disease. These findings suggest that while men with metabolic syndrome are not more likely than others to develop prostate cancer, if they do develop it, they are more likely than other men to die from it.

“These observations suggest that cardiovascular risk factors such as overweight and hypertension are involved in stimulating the progression of prostate cancer,” said Pär Stattin, MD, PhD, a visiting scientist at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York City.

This study was published in Cancer (2012; doi:10.1002/cncr.27677).