IBD increases prostate cancer risk by fivefold

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LONDON: According to the latest research, men with inflammatory bowel disease have a significantly higher risk of developing prostate cancer. Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is characterized by a range of gastrointestinal symptoms, including diarrhea, bloating, and cramps.

Two of the most common forms of IBD are Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. These conditions affect an estimated 3 million people in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). People with IBD have an increased risk of cancers of the gastrointestinal tract. However, the links between IBD and prostate cancer are not well-known.

Recently, researchers at Northwestern Medicine in Chicago, IL, set out to investigate whether or not a relationship exists. Though controversial, doctors often use the prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood test to screen for prostate cancer. Normally, levels of PSA in the blood are low. If there is a significant increase, it can sometimes be a sign of prostate cancer.

However, men with IBD often have higher levels of PSA, possibly due to the chronic inflammation associated with the gastrointestinal condition. Some researchers believe that certain inflammatory products, such as C-reactive protein, might boost levels of PSA without the presence of prostate cancer.

Because PSA levels can be high in people with IBD, they are often ignored. Understanding prostate cancer risk in this population is therefore important to help guide clinical decisions.

To investigate, the scientists followed 1,033 men with IBD and 9,306 men without IBD as a control group. On average, they followed each participant for 18 years. The average age at the beginning of the trial was 53.

They recently published their findings in the journal European Urology. The scientists found that the prostate cancer risk for men with IBD was roughly five times greater than it was for those without the condition. The authors conclude:”Our study is the first to demonstrate an increased risk of clinically significant [prostate cancer] for men with IBD.”