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Weather Might Influence Prostate Cancer

Cold climate's effect on pollutants may explain why, study suggests

TUESDAY, April 20 (HealthDay News) -- A new study links dry, cold weather to higher rates of prostate cancer.

While the findings don't confirm a direct link, researchers suspect that weather may affect pollution and, in turn, boost prostate cancer rates.

"We found that colder weather, and low rainfall, were strongly correlated with prostate cancer," researcher Sophie St-Hilaire, of Idaho State University, said in a news release. "Although we can't say exactly why this correlation exists, the trends are consistent with what we would expect given the effects of climate on the deposition, absorption, and degradation of persistent organic pollutants including pesticides."

St-Hilaire and colleagues studied prostate cancer rates in counties in the United States and looked for links to local weather patterns. They found a link, and suggest it may exist because cold weather slows the degradation of pollutants.

Prostate cancer will strike about one in six men, according to background information in the study. Reports suggest it's more common in the northern hemisphere.

"This study provides an additional hypothesis for the north-south distribution of prostate cancer, which builds on the existing supposition that individuals at northern latitudes may be deficient in vitamin D due to low exposure to UV radiation during the winter months," St-Hilaire said. "Our study suggests that in addition to vitamin D deficiency associated with exposure to UV radiation, other meteorological conditions may also significantly affect the incidence of prostate cancer."

The study was published April 20 in the International Journal of Health Geographics.

More information

The U.S. National Library of Medicine has details on prostate cancer.

-- Randy Dotinga

SOURCE: BioMed Central, news release, April 20, 2010

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