Men's health

Cold weather raises risk of prostate cancer

Affects pollution levels

Cold and dry weather has been linked to increased rates of prostate cancer.

US scientists think that the weather may affect pollution and pesticide levels, which can then add to a man's risk of developing the disease.

Dr Sophie St-Hilaire from Idaho State University, "We found that colder weather, and low rainfall, were strongly correlated with prostate cancer.

"Although we can't say exactly why this correlation exists, the trends are consistent with what we would expect given the effects of climate on the deposition, absorption, and degradation of persistent organic pollutants including pesticides".

In Europe, Scandanavia and other northern countries have the highest rates of prostate cancer compared with those in the south which have the lowest.

The north - south divide was thought to be due to men living in the northern latitudes having lower levels of vitamin D because of the lack of sunshine in the winter months, said the scientists.

However, this latest looked at prostate cancer rates for all counties in the US between 2000 and 2004. These were then compared with local weather conditions.

After taking into account UV radiation levels, pesticide use and other factors, they discovered a correlation between cold dry weather, low rainfall and higher rates of prostate cancer.

It's already known that various organic pollutants are capable of causing cancer.

The scientists suggest the cold weather may slow down the rate at which pollutants degrade, causing them to persist in the environment for longer, as well as speeding up their precipitation.

Rain and humidity can also play important roles in their absorption and degradation.

Dr St-Hilaire said: "This study provides an additional hypothesis for the north-south distribution of prostate cancer, which builds on the existing supposition that individuals at northern latitudes may be deficient in Vitamin D due to low exposure to UV radiation during the winter months.

"Our study suggests that in addition to vitamin D deficiency associated with exposure to UV radiation, other meteorological conditions may also significantly affect the incidence of prostate cancer".

This article was published on Wed 21 April 2010

Image © Andrey Ushakov -

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