Body size and serum levels of insulin and leptin in relation to the risk of benign prostatic hyperplasia

J Urol. 2002 Aug;168(2):599-604.


Purpose: Obesity has been implicated in the etiology of benign and malignant prostatic growth due to its influence on metabolic and endocrine changes. Because obesity is an important determinant of serum levels of insulin and leptin (the product of the obesity gene Ob), we investigated the role of obesity and serum levels of insulin and leptin in benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) etiology.

Materials and methods: Fasting serum levels of insulin and leptin as well as the body mass index, a measure of overall obesity, and waist-to-hip ratio, an indicator of abdominal obesity, were determined in 200 men newly diagnosed with BPH who were hospitalized for surgery and in 302 randomly selected healthy male subjects from the population in Shanghai, China.

Results: A higher waist-to-hip ratio and higher serum insulin were significantly associated with an increased risk of BPH. Relative to men in the lowest waist-to-hip ratio quartile (less than 0.856) those in the highest quartile (greater than 0.923) were at 2.4-fold risk (odds ratio 2.42, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.34 to 4.37, test for trend p = 0.01). Similarly relative to men in the lowest quartile of insulin (less than 5.87 microU. per ml.) those in the highest quartile (greater than 9.76 microU. per ml.) were at significantly increased risk (odds ratio 2.47, 95% CI 1.35 to 4.54, test for trend p = 0.009). The effect of insulin on BPH risk was more pronounced in men in low and middle tertiles of the waist-to-hip ratio (odds ratios comparing high to low insulin tertiles 2.8 and 2.7, respectively), while among men in the highest waist-to-hip ratio tertile insulin was not significantly associated with BPH risk. In contrast, we found no significant odds ratio comparing the highest to lowest quartiles of leptin (odds ratio 0.62, 95% CI 0.33 to 1.17) or body mass index (odds ratio 1.64, 95% CI 0.96 to 2.81).

Conclusions: Our results suggest that abdominal obesity and increasing serum insulin, and possibly overall obesity but not serum leptin are associated with a higher risk of BPH. Further prospective and laboratory studies are needed to confirm these results and elucidate the underlying mechanisms.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Body Constitution*
  • Body Mass Index
  • China
  • Humans
  • Insulin / blood*
  • Leptin / blood*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Obesity / blood
  • Obesity / complications
  • Odds Ratio
  • Prostatic Hyperplasia / blood
  • Prostatic Hyperplasia / etiology*
  • Prostatic Hyperplasia / surgery
  • Reference Values
  • Risk Factors


  • Insulin
  • Leptin