Obesity and Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia: Clinical Connections, Emerging Etiological Paradigms and Future Directions

J Urol. 2013 Jan;189(1 Suppl):S102-6. doi: 10.1016/j.juro.2012.11.029.


Purpose: Benign prostatic hyperplasia is a highly prevalent disease in older men with substantial adverse effects on public health. Classic etiological paradigms for benign prostatic hyperplasia focus on nonmodifiable risk factors. However, obesity also potentially promotes benign prostatic hyperplasia.

Materials and methods: We performed a structured, comprehensive literature review to identify studies of obesity, benign prostatic hyperplasia, lower urinary tract symptoms and physical activity.

Results: A preponderance of published evidence suggests strong positive associations of obesity with benign prostatic hyperplasia and lower urinary tract symptoms. This evidence encompasses most established metrics of adiposity, including body mass index, waist circumference and waist-to-hip ratio, and falls under 3 general categories, including prostate volume, clinical benign prostatic hyperplasia and lower urinary tract symptoms. 1) Prior studies consistently showed that increased adiposity is positively associated with radiographically determined prostate volume and enlargement, suggesting that obesity promotes prostate growth. 2) Most studies revealed that obesity increases the risk of clinical benign prostatic hyperplasia by several measures, including the initiation of benign prostatic hyperplasia medical treatment, noncancer prostate surgery, physician diagnosed benign prostatic hyperplasia, histological diagnosis and urinary flow rate. 3) Prior studies demonstrated that obesity increases the risk of lower urinary tract symptoms, as measured by a validated questionnaire. Also, most studies showed that physical activity significantly decreases the risk of benign prostatic hyperplasia.

Conclusions: Obesity markedly increases the risk of benign prostatic hyperplasia. Since physical activity decreases the risk of benign prostatic hyperplasia, these observations support the development of novel prevention strategies and treatment targeted toward adiposity, weight loss and lifestyle.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Forecasting
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Obesity / complications*
  • Prostatic Hyperplasia / etiology*