Asthma and risk of lethal prostate cancer in the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study

Elizabeth A. Platz, Charles G. Drake, Kathryn M. Wilson, Siobhan Sutcliffe, Stacey A. Kenfield, Lorelei A. Mucci, Meir J. Stampfer, Walter C. Willett, Carlos A. Camargo, Edward Giovannucci

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18 Scopus citations


Inflammation, and more generally, the immune response are thought to influence the development of prostate cancer. To determine the components of the immune response that are potentially contributory, we prospectively evaluated the association of immune-mediated conditions, asthma and hayfever, with lethal prostate cancer risk in the Health Professionals Follow-up Study. We included 47,880 men aged 40-75 years with no prior cancer diagnosis. On the baseline questionnaire in 1986, the men reported diagnoses of asthma and hayfever and year of onset. On the follow-up questionnaires, they reported new asthma and prostate cancer diagnoses. We used Cox proportional hazards regression to estimate relative risks (RRs). In total, 9.2% reported ever having been diagnosed with asthma. In all, 25.3% reported a hayfever diagnosis at baseline. During 995,176 person-years of follow-up by 2012, we confirmed 798 lethal prostate cancer cases (diagnosed with distant metastases, progressed to distant metastasis or died of prostate cancer [N = 625]). Ever having a diagnosis of asthma was inversely associated with risk of lethal (RR = 0.71, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 0.51-1.00) and fatal (RR = 0.64, 95% CI = 0.42-0.96) disease. Hayfever with onset in the distant past was possibly weakly positively associated with risk of lethal (RR = 1.10, 95% CI = 0.92-1.33) and fatal (RR = 1.12, 95% CI = 0.91-1.37) disease. Men who were ever diagnosed with asthma were less likely to develop lethal and fatal prostate cancer. Our findings may lead to testable hypotheses about specific immune profiles in the etiology of lethal prostate cancer. What's new? The way in which the immune system responds to allergens may play a role in the development of prostate cancer. Hence, to better understand prostate malignancies, the authors of the present study focused on potential associations with asthma and hayfever, which are mediated via TH2 pathways. Men who had been diagnosed with asthma had a reduced risk for both lethal and fatal prostate cancer, whereas men diagnosed with hayfever 30 or more years in the past were at slightly increased risk for the disease. The reason for the difference in risk between asthma and hayfever was unclear.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)949-958
Number of pages10
JournalInternational Journal of Cancer
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 15 2015


  • asthma
  • hayfever
  • men
  • prostate cancer
  • risk


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