Weight loss could play a significant role in preventing around 1,300 deaths from prostate cancer every year, a major study from the University of Oxford has shown.

Researchers found that every 2.5st increase in weight in the average British man – or every five-point increase in BMI – was linked to a 10 per cent increase in the risk of dying from prostate cancer.

Dr Aurora Perez-Cornago and her team looked at the measurements of 2.5m men, saying: “We found that men with higher total and central adiposity have a higher risk of dying from prostate cancer than men with a healthy weight.

“Knowing more about factors that increase the risk of prostate cancer is key to preventing it.

“Age, family history and black ethnicity are known risk factors but they are not modifiable, and so it’s important to discover risk factors that it is possible to change.”

Around 52,000 men are diagnosed with prostate cancer every year in the UK, making it the most common cause of cancer amongst men.

Dr Perez-Cornago said one of the reasons the death rate is higher in men who are overweight could be because prostate cancer is harder to detect in those with obesity. A later diagnosis can mean the disease is more difficult to treat.

She said: “More research is needed to determine if the association is biologically driven or due to delays in detection in men with higher adiposity.

“In either case, our latest results provide another reason for men to try to maintain a healthy weight.”

Simon Grieveson, of Prostate Cancer UK, said: “This large-scale study suggests that being overweight is associated with an increased risk of dying from prostate cancer.

“Whilst these results are compelling, more research is needed to fully understand the biological relationship between obesity and prostate cancer and, most importantly, how we can use this information to improve outcomes for men.

“Maintaining a healthy weight can protect against many cancers, but it is important to remember that prostate cancer can affect men of all shapes and sizes.

“Men over 50, black men and men with a family history are at highest risk of the disease and should speak to their doctor if they have concerns.”

The study saw researchers track the medical records of men aged from 40 to 69 for an average of 12 years., with 661 dying from prostate cancer.

The team found that every extra 10cm on a man’s waist increased his chances of dying from the disease by seven per cent.

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