Smoking, obesity linked with lower PSA awareness

September 25, 2008

Health risk behaviors are associated with lower awareness of PSA, which could lead to a lower likelihood of undergoing prostate cancer screening.

Health risk behaviors such as smoking and obesity are associated with lower awareness of PSA, which could lead to a lower likelihood of undergoing actual prostate cancer screening, according to a study conducted at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, New York.

According to the study, which was published in the Journal of Urology (2008; 180:658-62), a quarter of the men older than 50 years without a history of prostate cancer who were among the population of 7,000 men studied remain unaware of the PSA test.

“Our primary findings suggested that smoking, physical inactivity, and obesity are inversely associated with awareness of the PSA test,” said first author Firas S. Ahmed, MD. “These risk behaviors are linked with higher prostate cancer morbidity and mortality. This finding may be due to a general lack of concern about health maintenance or less interactions with health care providers by smokers.”

Earlier research has indicated that patients with prostate cancer who smoke present a worse prognosis than patients who do not, and obesity is associated with more advanced stages and higher grades of prostate cancer.

“The results concur with our initial hypothesis that men who adopt unhealthy lifestyles may be less concerned with health and less aware of preventive measures like the PSA test,” said senior author Luisa N. Borrell, DDS, PhD.

Given the associations among smoking, physical inactivity, and obesity with prostate cancer and cardiovascular disease, men with multiple risk behaviors would seem to be ideal targets for interventions to improve their awareness of the PSA test, the authors note.