A new study by Johns Hopkins researchers has found that men with denser bones may be more likely to develop prostate cancer.
Recent research at other institutions has suggested that women with high bone mineral density are at an increased risk of aggressive breast cancer.
For the study, Stacy Loeb, M.D., in the Department of Urology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, and colleagues gathered data from the BLSA, a long-term study that has tracked health-related information for hundreds of Baltimore-area men and women since 1958.
The researchers collected data on the bone mineral density of 519 men, measured from 1973 to 1984. They then looked at BLSA data again to see which men were eventually diagnosed with prostate cancer.
When they analyzed their results, researchers found that the 76 men who went on to develop prostate cancer had bone density that remained significantly higher as they aged compared to those who remained cancer free.
Although the reasons for this phenomenon are unclear, Loeb speculates that growth factors in bone may contribute to prostate cancer growth.
Additionally, bone density may reflect sex hormone levels in men, which can also affect prostate cancer development.
"We don't have an explanation yet, but we're hoping that these findings stimulate further study," said Loeb.
The study has presented at the American Urological Association Annual Meeting 2009.