Patients with germline genetic variants that increase their risk of developing prostate cancer have a lower risk of developing lethal disease when following a healthy lifestyle, according to study findings that researchers reported in European Urology.

The researchers prospectively followed 12,411 genotyped patients in the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study from 1993–2019 and the Physicians’ Health Study from 1983–2010 and quantified their genetic risk for prostate cancer using a polygenic risk score (PRS). During 27 years of follow up, 3,005 patients were diagnosed with prostate cancer and 435 lethal prostate cancer events occurred, with a fourfold increase for patients in the highest PRS quartile. However, patients in that quartile who followed a healthy lifestyle (defined as maintaining a healthy weight, engaging in vigorous physical activity, not smoking, and consuming a healthy diet) was associated with a decreased rate of lethal prostate cancer (1.6%) compared those with an unhealthy lifestyle (5.3%).

Adhering to a healthy lifestyle was not associated with a decreased risk of overall prostate cancer. Similar studies support the conclusions, with another recent finding of a 27% reduction risk of any type of death in former smokers.

“Our findings suggest that a genetic predisposition for prostate cancer is not deterministic for a poor cancer outcome,” the researchers concluded.

ONS’s Your Guide to Cancer Prevention book is an evidence-based resource that oncology nurses can use to educate patients about strategies to reduce their genetic predisposition for certain cancers—and follow to lower their own personal cancer risk as well.