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Death of Spouse Could Raise Men's Odds for Prostate Cancer

FRIDAY, Aug. 13, 2021 (HealthDay News) -- Widowers have a higher risk for advanced prostate cancer than men who are part of a couple, Canadian researchers say.

The new findings are from an analysis of 12 studies comparing 14,000 men newly diagnosed with prostate cancer and 12,000 healthy men.

The study — recently published in the European Journal of Epidemiology — suggests that social environment is an important factor in men's risk of advanced prostate cancer.

"This large group of subjects showed us that widowers were at risk of being diagnosed later than married men or men in relationships," said study author Charlotte Salmon, a doctoral student at the National Institute of Scientific Research in Quebec City, Canada.

Salmon's thesis focused on social isolation and the incidence of prostate cancer.

A number of previous studies have linked living with a partner to a healthier lifestyle.

"Without a spouse's encouragement to see a doctor or get screened if there are symptoms, cancers remain undetected longer and may be diagnosed at a more advanced stage," Salmon said in an institute news release. "This makes the prognosis bleaker."

To stay healthy, widowers should get support from family and friends and have regular medical follow-up, the study authors recommended.

Other possible reasons for the increased risk of advanced prostate cancer in widowers include lifestyle factors such as alcohol use and the emotional impact of bereavement, the researchers suggested.

Diet could also be a risk factor, they said.

The researchers plan further studies to investigate reasons for the risk and to identify appropriate public health strategies to reduce it.

Along with examining men's marital status, Salmon plans to also look at the number of family members living with them, family structure, neighborhood characteristics and other social factors.

More information

The American Cancer Society has more on prostate cancer.

SOURCE: National Institute of Scientific Research, news release, Aug. 12, 2021

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