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Obesity and Prostate Cancer

January 2006

by Will Sansom

A study by Health Science Center researchers raises the possibility that the most common test for prostate cancer might be of less benefit to men who are overweight or obese.

Ian M. Thompson Jr., M.D., professor and chair of the department of urology and the Henry B. and Edna Smith Dielmann Memorial Chair, and Jacques G. Baillargeon, Ph.D., associate professor with the Center for Epidemiology and Biostatistics, are among the authors on a study of the relationship between body mass index (BMI) and the prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test. The study in 2,779 men showed that PSA values were lower as BMI increased. The findings were reported in the journal Cancer.

Some researchers theorize that obese men might have elevated hormone levels, possibly explaining their lower PSA scores. An alternative theory, studied by the Health Science Center team, is that PSA may be less sensitive in obese men. This is important because it might mean that obese men are having their cancers diagnosed later, resulting in poorer overall survival.

The epidemiological study was part of the San Antonio Center of Biomarkers of Risk (SABOR) study, which includes a large number of Hispanic men.

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