Thinking “out of the box” — could vibration cause prostate cancer?


One should never criticize people just because they propose new ways of looking at old problems. And we have never come previously across the idea reported below as a contributing cause in the development of prostate cancer.

Young et al. have conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis of available literature on the risk of prostate cancer among men with occupations involving whole body vibration (WBV). The abstract of their paper is not specific about the types of occupation, but it doesn’t take much imagination to understand that this might involve men who do such things as driving heavy equipment over rough terrain.

Apparently the authors were able to identify five case-control and three cohort studies published between 1996 and 2004 that met the criteria for their review and meta-analysis.

According to the study report, the overall pooled estimate of relative risk associated with this type of occupation was 1.14 (95% CI 0.99-1.30) for the random effects model, based on 17 estimates of relative risk from the eight studies. This slight increase in relative risk for prostate cancer, although not statistically significant, suggests that occupational exposure to WBV cannot be ruled out as a possible risk factor for the disease.

The authors state that all of the studies that met the criteria to be included in this review and meta-analysis involved driving occupations, but that exposure to other risk factors for prostate cancer were also evident in each study population.

The “New” Prostate Cancer InfoLink suspects that if there is a real link between occupations involving whole body vibration and increased risk for prostate cancer progression, the impact is liable to be small compared to other risk factors. However, we are pleased to see that some people are thinking “out of the box” about unlikely factors that may have critical impact on the development and progression of prostate cancer.

4 Responses

  1. I fear that a solution to the development and progression of prostate cancer will only be found when researchers who are capable of thinking “outside of the box” (Stage 4½ or Stage 5, cognitively speaking), take charge of research methodology. This stage of thinking is only possible in less than 2% of the scientists doing research, so this elite group is being smothered by the majority “Do the same thing again, Sam” philosophy.

    Outside the box methodology is impossible in today’s goverment-controlled clinical trials. Protocols must be followed and adhered to or your drug does not go to market. The only way “out of the box” research can be accomplished is in secret trials, but who is going to risk their credentials working for the “dark side.”

  2. Just so that I get this right on the table, people who are not familiar with how the FDA and other regulatory agencies work might be surprised at their willingness to consider innovative trial structures as means to demonstrate effectiveness and safety of new drugs and diagnostics. However, what no good regulatory agency should ever be doing is permitting approval of drugs and diagnostics based on non-validated markers that may suggest effectiveness but have not been proven to correlate with recognized and proven measures. New drugs need to meet certain well-established risk/benefit ratios if they are to be approved. There are already a whole bunch of drugs on the market that are of dubious value. As a society, we don’t need more of them.

  3. At one time there was a good deal of discussion among men diagnosed with PCa about what appeared to be a high incidence of the disease in motor cycle riders — which certainly creates some vibration.

    Of course there was no conclusive evidence, and some small studies were found that said that.

    My own view was that riding a motor cycle regularly might well raise the PSA level in men — and that this in itself would give rise to a greater incidence of PCa (as currently defined) amongst these men.

  4. It’s that Rock and Roll music I tell ya. I sure don’t see any higher rate of old time pilots in the PCa group. Having piloted a more recent Cessna, I can tell those birds vibrate like crazy. Imagine the older ones with four engines. I am open to causes and studies of various things, but it’s going to be difficult to prove any of it.

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