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Genetic mutation may play key role in risk of lethal prostate cancer in overweight patients
Date:12/2/2013

nalyzed data on body mass index (BMI), waist circumference, and a marker for the hormonally regulated genetic mutation TMPRSS2:ERG from 1,243 participants in the Physicians' Health Study and Health Professionals Follow-Up Study who were diagnosed with prostate cancer between 1982 and 2005. Over the course of a follow-up period averaging 13 years, 119 men developed a lethal form of the disease.

One in two men with prostate cancer had tumors that were positive for the common genetic mutation TMPRSS2:ERG. The researchers found that among these men with prostate cancer whose tumors had the mutation, those who were overweight or obese had more than 50% increased risk of dying from cancer after diagnosis than normal-weight men. The effect was even stronger for obesity as measured by waist circumference. In contrast, men whose tumors were negative for the genetic mutation, there was no effect of obesity on cancer survival.

Obesity is associated with higher levels of several hormones, including insulin and growth factors that may fuel the progression of cancer. The authors found for the first time that the men whose tumors contained the TMPRSS2:ERG genetic mutation also had higher levels of the receptors for insulin and growth factor in their tumors. This finding may explain why men whose prostate tumors contain the genetic mutation would be more susceptible to the effects of obesity.

"The results from this study may help us better understand the mechanisms linking obesity with poorer prostate cancer prognosis. The key public health message is unchanged, however: Prostate cancer patients who are overweight or obese should lose weight to increase their chance of survival, regardless of whether their tumors carry this genetic change or not," said Pettersson.


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Contact: Todd Datz
tdatz@hsph.harvard.edu
617-432-8413
Harvard School of Public Health
Source:Eurekalert

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