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The long and the fat of prostate cancer.

Men with long, fat torsos tend to have an elevated risk of prostate cancer, according to a small, preliminary study comparing the physiques of healthy men with those of men who developed prostate cancer.

If this finding holds true in larger comparative studies, it may one day help physicians identify patients most likely to fall ill with prostate-cancer and thus most in need of frequent screening examinations.

A team led by cancer prevention researcher Wendy Demark-Wahnefried of Duke University Medical Center in Durham, N.C., performed 13 different anatomic measurements on 28 men, half of whom had prostate cancer. She and her co-workers found that overall, the cancer patients had higher waist-to-thigh circumference ratios than did the healthy volunteers. They also had greater trunk-to-total-height ratios than their healthy counterparts, the researchers report in the Sept. 2 JOURNAL OF THE NATIONAL CANCER INSTITUTE.

Demark-Wahnefried and her colleagues hypothesize that these physical features arise during adolescence because of elevated concentrations of the hormone testosterone, which spurs growth in young men. Studies have shown that boys with high concentrations of testosterone during puberty have greater sitting heights than their peers with average concentrations. Such a hormone surge, the Duke group speculates, might initiate minute changes within prostate cells at puberty that prompt the cells to become cancerous later in life.

While the researchers note that their study "must be interpreted with caution" until larger studies are completed, they conclude that the presence of a comparatively long, fat torso might represent an inexpensive, readily available, and simple means of better defining the one man in 11 who may develop cancer of the prostate."
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Title Annotation:anatomy and risk of developing prostate cancer
Publication:Science News
Article Type:Brief Article
Date:Sep 12, 1992
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