Risk factors for prostate cancer

New research suggests that age, race and family history are the biggest risk factors for a man to develop prostate cancer, although high blood pressure, high cholesterol, vitamin D deficiency, inflammation of prostate, and vasectomy also add to the risk. In contrast, obesity, alcohol abuse, and smoking show a negative association with the disease. Details are reported in the International Journal of Medical Engineering and Informatics.

Khaled Alqahtani, Shankar Srinivasan, Dinesh Mital and Syed Haque of the Department of Health Informatics, at Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences, Newark, New Jersey, USA, explain that prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men with 233000 new cases estimated in the USA during 2014 and almost 30000 deaths. A boy being born today has an almost 1 in 7 chance of developing prostate cancer at some point in their life and a 3% chance of dying from the disease. At this time, however, cancer specialists do not fully understand the underlying causes nor the epidemiology of prostate cancer.

Alqahtani and colleagues have analyzed data from The US Nationwide Inpatient Sample (NIS), the largest database in the USA for all-payer inpatient health care. They focused on the years 2007-2011 amounting to more than 12 million records and looked at men aged 35 to 100 years, finding that approximately 5.35% of them had prostate cancer (642383 men). They then used statistical analyses to look at the independent variables: age, race, family history of prostate cancer, family history of any other cancer, obesity, alcohol abuse, smoking, cholesterol, vitamin D deficiency, inflammation of prostate, vasectomy, and hypertension, to see which factors were critical variables associated with prostate cancer incidence.

Alqahtani, K.S., Srinivasan, S., Mital, D.P. and Haque, S. (2015) ‘Analysis of risk factors for prostate cancer patients’, Int. J. Medical Engineering and Informatics, Vol. 7, No. 4, pp.365–380.

Author: David Bradley

Award-winning, freelance science writer based in Cambridge, England.