June 10 (UPI) -- Having a lot of fat in the belly and thighs may be associated with an aggressive form of prostate cancer, a new study says.
Visceral fat that sits deep in the abdomen or surrounding the organs, and thigh subcutaneous fat that rests just beneath the skin, are linked to advanced and fatal prostate cancer, according to new findings published Monday in the journal Cancer. Additionally, the study looked at body mass index and waist circumference in relation to those types of prostate cancers.
"Interestingly, when we looked separately at men with a high BMI versus low BMI, we found that the association between visceral fat and advanced and fatal prostate cancer was stronger among men with a lower BMI. The precision of these estimates was limited in this subgroup analysis, but this is an intriguing signal for future research," study author Barbra Dickerman, a researcher at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, said in a news release.
For 13 years, the researchers used computed tomography imaging to analyze fat distribution in the areas associated with prostate cancer within a group of more than 1,800 men in Iceland. Among the group, 172 men developed prostate cancer, leading to 31 deaths.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 30,000 died from prostate cancer death in 2016, the latest statistics available.
The researchers say diet and exercise to lose fat may lower the risk of developing prostate cancer.
"Ultimately, identifying the patterns of fat distribution that are associated with the highest risk of clinically significant prostate cancer may help to elucidate the mechanisms linking obesity with aggressive disease and target men for intervention strategies," Dickerman said.