A review of African American-white differences in risk factors for cancer: prostate cancer

Cancer Causes Control. 2011 Mar;22(3):341-57. doi: 10.1007/s10552-010-9712-5. Epub 2010 Dec 24.


Objective: African American men have higher prostate cancer incidence rates than White men, for reasons not completely understood. This review summarizes the existing literature of race-specific associations between risk factors and prostate cancer in order to examine whether associations differ.

Methods: We reviewed epidemiologic studies published between January 1970 and December 2008 that reported race-specific effect estimates. We focused mainly on modifiable risk factors related to lifestyle and health. A total of 37 articles from 21 study populations met our inclusion criteria.

Results: We found no evidence of racial differences in associations between prostate cancer and alcohol intake, tobacco use, and family history of prostate cancer. Research suggests that a modest positive association may exist between height and prostate cancer risk (all prostate cancer and advanced prostate cancer) among Whites only. No clear patterns were observed for associations with physical activity, weight/body mass index, dietary factors, occupational history, sexual behavior, sexually transmissible infections, and other health conditions.

Discussion: Our results suggest few differences in prostate cancer risk factors exist between racial groups and underscore areas where additional research is needed. Future studies should enroll higher numbers of African American participants and report results for advanced prostate cancer.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • African Americans / statistics & numerical data
  • Blacks / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Life Style
  • Male
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / ethnology*
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / pathology
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Whites / statistics & numerical data*