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Prostate Cancer and Your Weight

Medically Reviewed by Michael W. Smith, MD on May 18, 2021

While being overweight or obese doesn’t seem to cause prostate cancer, it may increase your risk of developing an aggressive, fast-growing form of prostate cancer that’s more difficult to survive. By losing weight, you may be able to lower your risk of problems with prostate cancer.

The Link Between Prostate Cancer and Your Weight

Experts aren’t sure why, but there seems to be a link between your weight and prostate cancer.

Research suggests that being obese may lower your risk of getting slow-growing cancer. But it increases your risk of getting a more aggressive, fatal cancer.

If you’re obese or gained a lot of weight over time, your risk of dying from prostate cancer may be higher. You may also be more likely to have prostate cancer come back once you’ve had it.

Why Weight Matters

Experts don’t fully understand the relationship between weight and prostate cancer. It may be related to high levels of cholesterol, estrogen, inflammation, or metabolic changes that happen when you gain weight. Researchers need to study the issue more to understand the link.

Doctors are trying to find out more about the differences in the metabolic processes in obese people, non-obese people, and people who’ve gone on diets. They’re trying to see how weight impacts tumor growth and if tumors get smaller when you lose weight.

Some experts think sugar may play a role. When you eat sugar, your insulin spikes. Insulin is a known cell growth factor for prostate cancer.

Losing Weight Is Good for You

There’s no proven way to prevent prostate cancer. But exercise, a healthy diet, and a healthy weight may improve your overall health and lower your chance of problems.

Some studies point to following a healthy diet that’s low in fat and rich in fruits and vegetables as a way to lower your cancer risk. When you exercise, you lower inflammation, boost your immune system, and ward off health problems. That may also lower your risk of cancer.

How to Lose Weight and Lower Your Risk

If you’re carrying extra weight, you can lose it by cutting calories and exercising more. If you’re a healthy weight, you can stay healthy by eating well and exercising on most days.

To lose weight and lower your prostate cancer risk, try these tips.

Avoid sugar. Some doctors recommend staying away from simple sugars. Avoiding insulin spikes caused by sugar may help you lose weight.

Try cutting back on foods that have hidden sugars, like pasta, white bread, and white rice. When you snack, reach for a handful of nuts, a fruit, or vegetables instead of a piece of candy or sugary snack.

Follow a low-fat diet. Cutting back on fatty foods like meats, milk, and cheese may help you lose weight and lower your risk of problems.

When you cook, avoid adding extra fat. Opt for lean cuts of meat. Choose low-fat or reduced-fat dairy products instead of full-fat options.

Eat more fruits and vegetables. While it hasn’t been proven that any specific nutrients prevent prostate cancer, a diet rich in fruits and vegetables gives you vitamins and nutrients that may reduce your risk.

Fruits and vegetables are also a good substitute for less healthy foods like high-fat dairy or meats. Filling your plate with more of them may help you lose weight.

Exercise. Being active is good for your overall health. Some studies also link exercise with lower prostate cancer risk. Try exercising for 30 minutes on most days.

Show Sources

SOURCES:

Current Opinion in Urology: “Obesity and prostate cancer.”

International Journal of Cancer: “Weight change, obesity, and risk of prostate cancer progression among men with clinically localized prostate cancer.”

American Cancer Society: “Prostate Cancer Risk Factors.”

Cedars Sinai: “Explaining the Link Between Prostate Cancer and Obesity.”

Johns Hopkins Medicine: “Prostate Cancer: Prevention.”

Mayo Clinic: “Prostate Cancer Prevention: Ways to Reduce Your Risk.”

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