Obesity and prostate cancer have a relationship, but the exact connection is not clear at this time. Obesity seems to increase the risk for prostate cancer.
Central obesity is frequently associated with type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, insulin resistance, lipid abnormalities, hypertension and inflammatory conditions, as in the “metabolic syndrome.” Central fat accumulation by CT scan is a risk factor for prostate cancer.
Animal fat seems to increase prostate cancer. Linoleic acid (omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acid) is the most widely consumed oil in the American diet. Test tube studies have shown that linoleic acid promotes prostatic cancer cell migration. Saturated fat has been implicated as a growth factor for prostate cancer cell lines. Low fat diets slow androgen-sensitive prostate cancer growth.
Obesity results from the accumulation of white adipose tissue, which is an active endocrine gland. Fat cells secrete hormones, bioactive peptides and adipokines. This article reviews the role of adipokines in obesity and prostate cancer. The following adipokines were reviewed: leptin, interleukin 6, vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) and adiponectin.
Increased levels of adipokines are found in obesity (except for adiponectin). High blood levels of leptin, interleukin 6 and VEGF are associated with increased prostate cancer risk and aggressiveness. Prostate cancer cells are exposed to adipokines by way of the blood or through the retropubic fat pad with prostate cancer spread. Adipokines exert effects on prostate cancer cells by modulation of cellular differentiation, apoptosis, proliferation of cells and angiogenesis.
High blood levels of leptin are seen in obesity. Leptin has been shown to promote the growth of androgen-independent prostate cancer cells. Leptin promotes new blood vessel growth, necessary for growth and metastates formation in prostate cancer.
IL-6 blood levels are high in obesity and insulin resistance. Elevated serum IL-6 levels in prostate cancer patients are associated with a poor prognosis.
Elevated vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) blood levels “correlate with the tumor stage, grade and clinical outcome in men with prostate cancer.”
Adiponectin levels are inversely related to the factors related to the metabolic syndrome and low adiponectin levels are seen in obesity. Adiponectin has been called the anti-cancer adipokine. Prosate cancer cells have been found to have adiponectin receptors.
CONCLUSION: There is a poorly understood relation between obesity and cancer. The fat cells do produce chemicals, adipokines, which are associated with high cancer incidence and poor outcome. Further testing is needed.
NOTE: Apoptosis is a natural way for abnormal cells to die. Angiogenesis is a process of new blood vessel formation, which is necessary for tumor masses to grow. Differentiation refers to how mature cells are and poorly differentiated cells are associated with cancer. More natural treatments of cancer cause the cells to be more differentiated and more differentiated cells are more mature cells.
Read about the importance of nutrition and cancer.
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