SJ Lewis, A Murad, L Chen, G Davey Smith, J Donovan, T Palmer, F Hamdy, D Neal, JA Lane, M Davis, A Cox, RM Martin
UNLABELLED: Observational studies suggest that obese men have a lower risk of incident prostate cancer, but an increased risk of advanced and fatal cancers. These observations could be due to confounding, detection bias, or a biological effect of obesity. Genetic studies are less susceptible to confounding than observational epidemiology and can suggest how associations between phenotypes (such as obesity) and diseases arise. To determine whether the associations between obesity and prostate cancer are causal, we conducted a genetic association study of the relationship between a single nucleotide polymorphism known to be associated with obesity (FTO rs9939609) and prostate cancer. Data are from a population-based sample of 1550 screen-detected prostate cancers, 1815 age- and general practice matched controls with unrestricted prostate specific antigen (PSA) values and 1175 low-PSA controls (PSA <0.5 ng/ml). The rs9939609 A allele, which was associated with higher BMI in the sample, was inversely associated with overall (odds ratio (OR) versus all controls = 0.93; 95% confidence interval (CI): 0.85-1.02 p = 0.12 per allele) and low-grade (OR = 0.90; 0.81-0.99 p = 0.03 per allele) prostate cancer risk, but positively associated with high-grade cancer among cases (OR high- versus low-grade cancer = 1.16; 0.99-1.37 p = 0.07 per allele). Although evidence for these effects was weak, they are consistent with observational data based on BMI phenotypes and suggest that the observed association between obesity and prostate cancer is not due to confounding. Further research should confirm these findings, extend them to other BMI-related genetic variants and determine whether they are due to detection bias or obesity-related hormonal changes. TRIAL REGISTRATION: Controlled-Trials.com ISRCTN20141297.