New research has found a correlation between men who suffer from bowel disease and those who also suffer from prostate cancer, raising questions about possible links between the two illnesses.
Up to Five Times More Likely
A group of researchers from Northwestern University recently published their findings after an exhaustive, 20-year men’s health study, revealing that men who suffer from inflammatory bowel diseases are anywhere from four to five times more likely to also suffer from prostate cancer. Scientists found that men with bowel diseases, which include ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease, also have higher-than-average levels of prostate-specific antigen (PSA), one of the possible earmarks of prostate cancer, in their bloodstream as well.
The research study followed more than 10,000 male patients from 1996 to 2017. The control group featured over 9000 men without inflammatory bowel disease, while an additional 1033 men who had been diagnosed with a bowel disease rounded out the study. The researcher’s findings of the possible link between bowel disease and prostate cancer were recently published in the journal European Urology.
Correlation Isn’t Always Causation
While such news can certainly be harrowing, especially if you suffer from an inflammatory bowel disease now, just because there’s evidence of a link between bowel disease and prostate cancer doesn’t mean that one causes the other. In fact, more research needs to be done in order to pinpoint why men who suffer from bowel diseases also tend to suffer from prostate cancer.
The truth is that there very well could be a single cause, or a number of different ones working in tandem, that increase chances of being diagnosed with both inflammatory bowel disease and prostate cancer. This research is the first step in identifying this possible cause — and then, of course, finding ways to treat or even prevent both illnesses at the same time by addressing that single cause before symptoms ever develop. Such treatment is likely quite some time in the future, though.
The Good News
However, there are many positive things that can be taken from this study, especially when it comes to early detection and treatment of prostate health problems. Doctors of men being treated for bowl diseases that are armed with new knowledge can proactively screen for elevated PSA and other signs of prostate illness early and often. Doing so will result in earlier detection of prostate cancer — and detecting these types of cancers as early as possible makes treatment easier and much more effective.