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J Natl Cancer Inst. 1997 Mar 5;89(5):385-9.

Body size and prostate cancer: a 20-year follow-up study among 135006 Swedish construction workers.

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Department of Urology, Orebro Medical Center, Sweden.



Obesity is associated with endocrine changes (e.g., increased estrogen and decreased testosterone in the blood) that have been implicated in the cause of prostate cancer and, therefore, an association between body weight and the risk of developing prostate cancer would be expected. However, because of bias or low statistical power in previous epidemiologic studies, associations between anthropometric measurements (height and weight), body mass index (BMI), and the risk of prostate cancer may have been inadvertently overlooked.


We performed a large, retrospective cohort study among Swedish construction workers to evaluate possible associations of adult weight, height, BMI, and lean body mass (LBM) by age at entry in the study with the incidence and mortality rate of prostate cancer.


We analyzed data that had been compiled in a computerized central register on a cohort of approximately 135000 male construction workers. Information on height and weight had been collected with the use of a comprehensive questionnaire filled out by nurses at the time of enrollment in the cohort, from 1971 through 1975. Complete follow-up was achieved through 1991 by means of record linkage to the Swedish National Cancer Register, the Death Register, and the Migration Register. A total of 2368 incident cases and 708 deaths from prostate cancer occurred in the cohort during a follow-up period averaging 18 years. We used only information obtained at the index visit from 1971 through 1975 to determine age-adjusted rate ratios (RRs) in a Poisson-based multiplicative multivariate model with age and the relevant exposure variable (e.g., weight, height, BMI, and LBM) as independent variables.


All anthropometric measurements were positively associated with the risk of prostate cancer and were more strongly related to mortality than to incidence. The excess risk of death from prostate cancer was statistically significant in all BMI categories above the reference category: RR = 1.40 (95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.09-1.81) in the highest category compared with the lowest (P for trend = .04). For height and LBM, the excess risk in the highest compared with the lowest categories was somewhat less pronounced: RR = 1.28 (95% CI = 1.02-1.60) and RR = 1.26 (95% CI = 1.02-1.57), respectively. Statistically significant linear dose-response relationships were also found with the incidence of prostate cancer, with the exception of BMI (P for trend = .10).


Our large cohort study indicates that various aspects of body size are related to the risk of prostate cancer and that future studies are needed to study the role of body size and prostate cancer.

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