The effects of height and BMI on prostate cancer incidence and mortality: A Mendelian randomization study in 20,848 cases and 20,214 controls from the PRACTICAL consortium

Davies, Neil M., Gaunt, Tom R., Lewis, Sarah J., Holly, Jeff, Donovan, Jenny L., Hamdy, Freddie C., Kemp, John P., Eeles, Rosalind, Easton, Doug, Kote-Jarai, Zsofia, Al Olama, Ali Amin, Benlloch, Sara, Muir, Kenneth, Giles, Graham G., Wiklund, Fredrik, Gronberg, Henrik, Haiman, Christopher A., Schleutker, Johanna, Nordestgaard, Børge G., Travis, Ruth C., Neal, David, Pashayan, Nora, Khaw, Kay-Tee, Stanford, Janet L., Blot, William J., Thibodeau, Stephen, Maier, Christiane, Kibel, Adam S., Cybulski, Cezary, Cannon-Albright, Lisa, Brenner, Hermann, Park, Jong, Kaneva, Radka, Batra, Jyotsna, Teixeira, Manuel R., Pandha, Hardev, Lathrop, Mark, Smith, George Davey, & Martin, Richard M. (2015) The effects of height and BMI on prostate cancer incidence and mortality: A Mendelian randomization study in 20,848 cases and 20,214 controls from the PRACTICAL consortium. Cancer Causes and Control, 26(11), pp. 1603-1616.

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Epidemiological studies suggest a potential role for obesity and determinants of adult stature in prostate cancer risk and mortality, but the relationships described in the literature are complex. To address uncertainty over the causal nature of previous observational findings, we investigated associations of height- and adiposity-related genetic variants with prostate cancer risk and mortality.


We conducted a case–control study based on 20,848 prostate cancers and 20,214 controls of European ancestry from 22 studies in the PRACTICAL consortium. We constructed genetic risk scores that summed each man’s number of height and BMI increasing alleles across multiple single nucleotide polymorphisms robustly associated with each phenotype from published genome-wide association studies.


The genetic risk scores explained 6.31 and 1.46 % of the variability in height and BMI, respectively. There was only weak evidence that genetic variants previously associated with increased BMI were associated with a lower prostate cancer risk (odds ratio per standard deviation increase in BMI genetic score 0.98; 95 % CI 0.96, 1.00; p = 0.07). Genetic variants associated with increased height were not associated with prostate cancer incidence (OR 0.99; 95 % CI 0.97, 1.01; p = 0.23), but were associated with an increase (OR 1.13; 95 % CI 1.08, 1.20) in prostate cancer mortality among low-grade disease (p heterogeneity, low vs. high grade <0.001). Genetic variants associated with increased BMI were associated with an increase (OR 1.08; 95 % CI 1.03, 1.14) in all-cause mortality among men with low-grade disease (p heterogeneity = 0.03).


We found little evidence of a substantial effect of genetically elevated height or BMI on prostate cancer risk, suggesting that previously reported observational associations may reflect common environmental determinants of height or BMI and prostate cancer risk. Genetically elevated height and BMI were associated with increased mortality (prostate cancer-specific and all-cause, respectively) in men with low-grade disease, a potentially informative but novel finding that requires replication.

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ID Code: 94546
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
Keywords: Height, Body mass index, Prostate cancer, Mendelian randomization, Single nucleotide polymorphisms, Instrumental variables analysis
DOI: 10.1007/s10552-015-0654-9
ISSN: 1573-7225
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > MEDICAL AND HEALTH SCIENCES (110000) > ONCOLOGY AND CARCINOGENESIS (111200)
Divisions: Current > Schools > School of Biomedical Sciences
Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Health
Current > Institutes > Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2015 The Author(s). This article is published with open access at
Copyright Statement: This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made.
Deposited On: 08 Apr 2016 00:25
Last Modified: 10 Apr 2016 21:19

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