Prostate cancer

Our analysis of worldwide research on prostate cancer.

As part of the Continuous Update Project (CUP) - our ongoing programme to analyse global research on how diet, nutrition, physical activity and weight affect cancer risk and survival – we have analysed worldwide research to produce our CUP report on prostate cancer.

Published in November 2014, the report is the most rigorous, systematic, global analysis of the scientific research currently available on diet, weight, physical activity and prostate cancer, and which of these factors increase or decrease the risk of developing the disease.

For the report, the global scientific research on diet, nutrition, physical activity and prostate cancer was gathered and analysed by a research team at Imperial College London, and then independently assessed by a panel of leading international scientists.

The total number of men in the 104 studies from around the world reviewed for the report was over nine million (9,855,000); and the total number of prostate cancer cases in the studies analysed for the report was 191,000.

The report updates the prostate cancer section of our 2007 Second Expert Report.

Key Findings

Strong evidence

  • There is strong evidence that being overweight or obese increases the risk of advanced prostate cancer (being overweight or obese is assessed by body mass index (BMI), waist circumference and waist-hip ratio).
  • There is strong evidence that being tall increases the risk of prostate cancer (developmental factors in the womb, childhood and adolescence, that influence growth are linked to an increased risk of prostate cancer. The taller a man is, the greater his risk of prostate cancer).
  • There is strong evidence that consuming beta-carotene (either through food or supplements) is unlikely to have a substantial effect on the risk of prostate cancer.

The findings on being overweight or obese, and adult height in this report are new; those for beta-carotene remain unchanged from our 2007 Second Expert Report.

Prostate cancer matrix


  1. To reduce the risk of developing advanced prostate cancer, we recommend maintaining a healthy weight.
  2. Follow our Cancer Prevention Recommendations, which include eating a healthy diet, being physically active and maintaining a healthy weight.
  3. Better designed scientific research is needed to identify more clearly the tumours that are likely to progress to advanced prostate cancer (which will help when analysing the risk factors for the disease).

A more detailed overview of the findings is provided in the Executive Summary of the report which can be found here.

Published findings in peer-reviewed journals

Selected findings from the prostate cancer CUP update have been published in a peer-reviewed journal.  The details of the paper and link to the abstract in PubMed are below:

Selenium and prostate cancer: systematic review and meta-analysis. 
Hurst R, Hooper L, Norat T, Lau R, Aune D, Greenwood DC, Vieira R, Collings R, Harvey LJ, Sterne JA, Beynon R, Savovic J & Fairweather-Tait SJ. 
Am J Clin Nutr. 2012; 96(1): 111-22. Abstract.

Dairy products, calcium, and prostate cancer risk: A systematic review and meta-analysis of cohort studies. Aune D, Navarro Rosenblatt DA, Chan DSM, Vieira AR, Vieira R, Greenwood DC, Vatten LJ & Norat T. Am J Clin Nutr 2014; 101(1): 87-117. Abstract