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Height Linked to Risk of Prostate Cancer Development and Progression E-mail
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A man's height is a modest marker for risk of prostate cancer development, but is more strongly linked to progression of the cancer, say British researchers who conducted their own study on the connection and also reviewed 58 published studies.

In the September issue of Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research, 12 researchers at four universities in England studied more than 9,000 men with and without prostate cancer and estimated that the risk of developing prostate cancer rises by about six percent for every 10 centimeters (3.9 inches) in height a man is over the shortest group of men in the study. That means a man who is one foot taller than the shortest person in the study would have a 19 percent increased risk of developing prostate cancer.

Still, these increases in risk are a lot less than those linked with other established risk factors, such as age, family history of the disease, and race. Because of that, the researchers do not suggest that taller men be screened more often than is typical, or that their prostate cancer treatment be altered.

"Compared to other risk factors, the magnitude of the additional risk of being taller is small, and we do not believe that it should interfere with preventive or clinical decisions in managing prostate cancer," said the study's lead author, Luisa Zuccolo, M.Sc., of the Department of Social Medicine at the University of Bristol. "But the insight arising from this research is of great scientific interest. Little is known on the causes of prostate cancer and this association with height has opened up a new line of scientific inquiry."

For example, Zuccolo says that factors associated with height - not height itself - could be risk factors for progression to fatal prostate cancer, and a plausible mechanism behind this association could be the insulin-like growth factor-1(IGF-1) system, which stimulates cell growth and has been shown to be involved in prostate cancer incidence and progression.

Because some studies have shown a much greater association between height and prostate cancer risk - some between 20 to 40 percent - the researchers then placed their results in the context of available evidence. They conducted a meta-analysis of 58 studies, and found evidence that greater stature is associated with increased prostate cancer risk. But as in their study, the overall effect varied with study design and was modest - a three to 9 percent increase risk of development per 10 centimeters, and five to 19 percent increase in risk for more advanced cancer.

"We do not believe that height itself matters in determining risk of prostate cancer or prostate cancer progression, but we speculate that factors that influence height may also influence cancer and height is therefore acting as a marker for the causal factors," Zuccolo said.

About Prostate Cancer

Prostate cancer is a disease in which cancer develops in the prostate, a gland in the male reproductive system. It occurs when cells of the prostate mutate and begin to multiply out of control. These cells may spread (metastasize) from the prostate to other parts of the body, especially the bones and lymph nodes.

Many factors, including genetics and diet, have been implicated in the development of prostate cancer. Prostate cancer develops most frequently in men over fifty. This cancer can occur only in men, as the prostate is exclusively of the male reproductive tract. It is the most common type of cancer in men in the United States, where it is responsible for more male deaths than any other cancer, except lung cancer.

Prostate Cancer Symptoms
Early prostate cancer usually causes no symptoms.  Many men who develop prostate cancer never have symptoms, undergo no therapy, and eventually die of other causes. Often it is diagnosed during the workup for an elevated PSA noticed during a routine checkup.

Sometimes, however, prostate cancer does cause symptoms, often similar to those of diseases such as benign prostatic hypertrophy. These symptoms may include:

  • difficulty starting and maintaining a steady stream of urine,
  • frequent urination,
  • increased urination at night,
  • blood in the urine,
  • painful urination and
  • erectile dysfunction

Advanced prostate cancer can spread to other parts of the body and this may cause additional symptoms. The most common symptom being bone pain, often in vertebrae (bones of the spine), pelvis or ribs. Spread of cancer into other bones such as the femur is usually to the proximal part of the bone. Prostate cancer in the spine can also compress the spinal cord, causing leg weakness and urinary and fecal incontinence.

 

 

 

 
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