A new study by Cancer Council NSW, published in the International Journal of Cancer, reveals insight into what may increase risk of prostate cancer in men.
“Only relatively few causes of prostate cancer are well known. Our study confirmed the association with these well-known factors (such as family history), but it also found that adult body size, sexual activity and adolescent sexual development are among the factors that appear to raise the risk of prostate cancer,” Dr Visalini Nair-Shalliker, Research Fellow at Cancer Council NSW, said.
“More research into the exact mechanisms is needed, but what we do know is that a number of risk factors we looked at – for example, obesity and sexual activity – are associated with hormonal activity. Hormonal changes have been linked to prostate cancer initiation, so that’s the common potential underlying cause that we can see at this stage.”
The study found the following factors to at least double the risk of prostate cancer: having a father with a history of prostate cancer, a previous diagnosis of prostatitis or benign prostatic hyperplasia, and the number of sexual partners in a lifetime, with risk being highest in the group that reported the most sexual partners.
“Our study also points towards men who engage in higher levels of sexual activity and start being sexually active earlier as being at a higher risk of prostate cancer.”
“However, previous research has pointed to greater sexual activity in early adulthood as reducing later risk. The role of sexual activity is just not straightforward, due to its multifaceted nature. It’s an area that needs further exploration,” Dr Nair-Shalliker added.
Being overweight or obese was associated with increased risk, but to a lesser extent. “The impact of obesity on the risk of developing prostate cancer is a concern, with 70 per cent of Australian men being overweight or obese,” Dr Nair-Shalliker concluded.
The study also found that there was no association between certain factors and prostate cancer risk. For example, circumcision, vasectomy, vertex balding, erectile function, acne, asthma or diabetes weren’t found to increase or lower the risk.
[hr] Source: Cancer Council NSW