Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men. According to Prostate Cancer UK, over 46,000 men in the UK are diagnosed with prostate cancer every year (that is 128 men every day). As many as 1 in 8 men will get prostate cancer in their lifetime, and more than 11,000 men in the UK die from the disease each year.
New research from Oxford University, published by the BMC Medicine journal, has found that tall height and obesity are associated with an increased risk of aggressive prostate cancer. The study, as reported in The Telegraph, found that for every extra 4 inches in a man’s height, there is a 21 per cent increased risk of developing high-grade prostate cancer, and a 17 per cent greater chance of death from the disease.
Researchers said there are several reasons why taller men may be more at risk. Taller men have more cells as well as larger prostates. It is thought the hormones and food which promote growth in childhood may increase the risk of prostate cancer. Lead researcher Dr Aurora Perez-Cornago, from Oxford University, indicated that the risk of prostate cancer may be related to early nutrition and growth.
Obese men are more at risk because obesity changes the hormone levels which increases the risk of the disease.
What is the prostate?
The prostate is a gland about the size of a walnut. It naturally grows bigger as you get older to about the size of a satsuma. It sits underneath the bladder and surrounds the urethra (the tube men urinate and ejaculate through). It’s main function is to help produce the fluid that carries sperm (semen).
What is prostate cancer?
Prostate cancer develops when the cells in the prostate start to grow uncontrollably. Prostate cancer usually develops slowly, so there may be no signs or symptoms for many years.
What are the symptoms?
As prostate cancer usually progresses slowly, some men can live for decades without symptoms or needing treatment. However, it can cause physical problems such as erectile dysfunction and urinary incontinence. The most common symptoms men should get checked out by their GP are:
- The need to urinate more frequently (usually at night)
- Difficulty starting to urinate
- Straining or taking a long time to finish urinating
- A weak flow when urinating
- A feeling the bladder is not fully empty
- Needing to rush to the toilet to urinate
- Dribbling urine after you finish urinating
Less common symptoms include:
- Pain when urinating
- Pain when ejaculating
- Blood in urine or in semen
Who is at risk?
The chances of developing prostate cancer increases as you get older. Most cases occur in men aged 50 or older. Men with a family history of prostate cancer, and men of African-Caribbean or African descent are also at greater risk. According to new research tall men are also at greater risk. Obesity is also a risk factor.
If you are experiencing any symptoms or have any health concerns visit your GP, or if you have private health insurance, make an appointment with your private doctor.