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Madrid, 20 November 2023. - Age, race, family history, lifestyle and genetic changes are some of the risk factors associated with prostate cancer, the fourth most frequent tumour diagnosed in Spain1, behind that of the colon and rectum, breast and lung. By gender, prostate cancer is the most common among men. Among these determining factors, dietary habits and weight are especially important for the researchers at MD Anderson Cancer Center Madrid, who have conducted a nutritional study that clearly indicates a close link between obesity and this pathology.

The exact role eating habits play in the development of prostate cancer is not clear, although various factors have been subject to research. The study was conducted over four months on 103 male patients with an average age of 62 and consisted of understanding their nutritional condition through diagnosis. The results showed that 87% of the patients that attended the Urology check-up for cancer diagnosis were obese, with 13% sarcopenic obesity based on a Body Mass Index (BMI) above 31 kg/m2. In addition, 23% had a previous diagnosis of type 2 diabetes and, of these, 9% were undergoing treatment with metformin and 8.5% for dyslipidaemia. 

The existence of a causal relationship between obesity and certain tumours associated with body fat is well known. One of these is prostate cancer, especially when the component is abdominal. “Various different studies provide information on the location of abdominal fat and tumoral disease, in addition to other risk factors associated with type II diabetes and dyslipidaemia, which is an alteration of lipid levels in blood. All of this translates into a state of continuous cellular inflammation which generates changes in the cellular and genetic structure, producing mechanisms of tumoral proliferation”, explained Pedro Robledo, Manager of the Clinical and Dietary Nutrition Unit at MD Anderson Madrid, one of the study directors together with Dr. Carlos Núñez, Head of the Urological Surgery Department at the same centre.

Relation between abdominal fat and prostate tumours  

The objective of the specialists was to evaluate the prevalence of these events and determine the nutritional situation of the newly diagnosed patients, before the start of treatment or any medical intervention, to check for a possible relationship between abdominal fat and prostate tumours.  

For this purpose, anthropometric procedures were used, which included an evaluation of the weight/height ratio, measurements of the abdominal perimeter, skin folds and image parameters which indicate the presence of abdominal fat and muscle mass, using computerised axial tomography (CAT) under the diagnostic supervision of the Urology Department.  

High calorific consumption and habitual alcohol intake 

In addition, the habitual eating habits of each patient were recorded, as well as any medication use. It was determined that the average calorific consumption of this group of patients was more than 2,200 kcal when their needs were no higher than 1,700 Kcal, with a diet high in saturated fat and sugars. Likewise, more than 80% of the patients regularly consumed alcohol. “They did not have an occasional beer or glass of wine, but rather drank strong spirits with practically every meal. In addition a high percentage were smokers”, noted Doctor Robledo.

“With this study, we have attempted to stress the value of a nutritional evaluation among the protocols. This is an issue which is often neglected in the situation subsequent to the diagnosis or when support becomes more difficult. It is important to know how the patients are eating, what habits are healthy or bad for the health in order to improve treatment results. It is quite normal to associate patients with the opposite effect and have the common perception that cancer patients lose weight, when in fact the reverse is true: patients who gain weight are those most at risk”, she added. 

Response to treatment in obese patients with prostate cancer  

The second phase of the study will be to understand how obese patients respond to the treatment received, identifying whether the response worsens in patients with obesity, given that after surgery the trend is to gain weight due to hormonal blocking.    

“It has been shown that with breast and ovarian cancer, gaining weight during treatment involves a risk of relapse, but we do not yet know if this is also true with prostate cancer.  This is what we will attempt to ascertain in the second part of the study, although what we have actually done previously was to study a situation that was already understood, but not fully evaluated at our centre. Now we have the data to show that it is similar to other studies and we will try to find a solution”, concluded the Manager of the Clinical and Dietary Nutrition Unit at MD Anderson Madrid.  


  1. Spanish Society of Medical Oncology. SEOM. Cancer Figures in Spain 2023. Available on: