Being overweight has long been correlated with conditions like heart disease and diabetes. But a new study has found surprising links between males who are overweight and having higher odds of developing prostate cancer.

A Canadian study published in Cancer Causes & Control looked into fat distribution and whether or not it plays a role in cancer development.

Researchers collected data from over 1,900 males from 2005-2012 and compiled waist and hip measurements, height, weight, BMI and other relevant statistics. They found that abdominal fat was linked with aggressive prostate cancer. The more the BMI increased, the higher the odds were of developing prostate cancer.

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A closer look at the results revealed that waists measuring 40 inches or higher were even more dangerous, linked with an elevated risk of advanced prostate cancer.

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One of the most important facts that the research uncovered is that general obesity wasn’t connected to prostate cancer. The problem is belly fat, which is believed to be the cause of proliferation of prostate cancer cells.

“Abdominal obesity causes hormonal and metabolic variations that can promote the growth of hormone-dependent cancer cells,” said one of the authors of the study, Éric Vallières. “Abdominal obesity is believed to be associated with a decrease in testosterone, as well as a state of chronic inflammation linked to the development of aggressive tumors.”

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While the results are concerning, having this knowledge is a good thing. Studies like this can be used to orient doctors and patients and provide answers in treating complicated diseases, like cancer. Men who are overweight can be closely monitored for prostate cancer, preventing the disease or treating it early on.

This post was originally published on The Fresh Toast