Prostate cancer news reports: Thursday, October, 2009

In today’s news reports we cover items on:

  • Risks for prostate cancer from  smoking and increased adipose tissue
  • The role of religious activities in prostate cancer testing among African Americans
  • Blood loss at the time of surgery and risk for progressive disease

Watters et al. have reported data about smoking and prostate cancer from a prospective epidemiological study of nearly 300,000 men aged 50 to 71 years enrolled between 1995 and 1996. According to the authors, their findings “suggest that current and former smokers may be at decreased risk of being diagnosed with prostate cancer and current smokers are at an increased risk of dying from prostate cancer.” This seems like an odd result, but then the results from epidemiological studies of this type are notoriously difficult to interpret with any great degree of accuracy and conviction unless they are extremely simple and straightforward (e.g., more car drivers get killed in car accidents than non-drivers).

Hernandez et al. have published additional data (from the Multiethnic Cohort study) suggesting that changes in weight and body mass index (BMI) as a consequence of changes in the amount of adipose tissue (fat) as a man ages may influence the development of prostate cancer. They also suggest that ethnic differences in risk for prostate cancer may be explicable in terms of the variation in the distribution of accumulated body fat.

Holt et al. report that African American males who are involved in religious activities are more likely to have had a digital rectal examination (DRE) in the past year and much more likely to report having an appointment for a DRE than those who are not involved with religious activities in any way. Interestingly, however, there appeared to be no relationship between religious involvement and getting a PSA test. Additional information about this study is available in a media release from the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

Lloyd et al. have demonstrated that there is an association between high levels of blood loss at the time of surgery and subsequent risk for progressive disease. However, they were unable to offer an hypothesis to explain this association that fit the available data.

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