Metabolic syndrome may influence the development of prostatic diseases, including benign prostatic hyperplasia and prostate cancer

April 2013

Whilst metabolic syndrome is known to be directly associated with a number of cardiovascular diseases and type 2 diabetes there is now growing evidence of its influence on the initiation and clinical progression of prostatic diseases such as benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) and prostate cancer (PCa). A recent review of the scientific literature evaluated studies providing evidence of the role of metabolic syndrome in the development and progression of BPH and PCa. In this evaluation the authors considered relevant articles published between 1995 and September 2011 that were identified using one of the main scientific citation databases – PubMed.


Key findings

  • The prevalence of metabolic syndrome rises from the age of 20 years until 50 years, when it levels and affects >40% of the population in the USA and nearly 30% in Europe. The prevalence of metabolic syndrome is also increasing in developing countries reflecting the worldwide transition from a traditional to a Western-like lifestyle
  • Several observational studies, identified in the review, show that metabolic syndrome is associated with an increased risk of lower urinary tract symptoms (LUTS) and BPH
  • At present there is no clear link between metabolic syndrome and PCa. The review highlighted conflicting data on such a link and both positive and negative associations have been reported. Analyses of metabolic syndrome and PCa are problematic, as comparisons are likely influenced by several different factors (including race, obesity, specific definitions and levels of metabolic syndrome, and levels of PCa severity). Therefore, further studies will be necessary to clarify the link
  • Recognition and management of metabolic syndrome by doctors is beneficial to patients’ health 
    • It is reasonable to suggest that regular exercise, eating a balanced diet, and maintenance of a healthy weight can prevent or reverse metabolic syndrome. This advice can improve heart health and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and may also influence and maintain prostate health
  • Detailed understanding of the mechanisms of metabolic syndrome may lead to new treatments to reduce the risk of prostatic diseases

The Correlation Between Metabolic Syndrome and Prostatic Diseases. De Nunzio C, Aronson W, Freedland SJ, Giovannucci E. Eur Urology 2012;61:560-570.

Background information

PCa and BPH, both chronic diseases with slow progression, are significant health concerns and become more common in older men.

PCa is the leading cause of non-skin cancer among men worldwide and in the USA it is the second leading cause of cancer deaths (after lung cancer).

Symptomatic BPH represents the most common urologic disease among elderly males, affecting about one-quarter of men in their 50’s, one-third of men in their 60’s, and about half of 80 year olds.

Metabolic syndrome is a complex, very common disorder and considered a worldwide epidemic. It is already known to be directly associated with an increase in the risk of coronary artery disease, cardiovascular atherosclerotic diseases and type 2 diabetes.

The main components of metabolic syndrome are:

In most cases, metabolic syndrome develops as a result of poor eating habits and/or inactive lifestyles, which are associated with insulin resistance and obesity.