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Risk Factors for Prostate Cancer

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Who is at risk for prostate cancer?

In this case, risk is defined as a man’s chances of developing prostate cancer.

Ultimately, if you have a prostate, you are at risk for developing prostate cancer; which means, of course, that there is risk for all men. However, within the gender, there are certain risk factors that increase a man’s chances for developing the disease, including age which is the most common risk factor for developing prostate cancer. In fact, of men who are diagnosed with prostate cancer each year, over 70% of them are over the age of 65.

Other risk factors include race, diet, and family history – all of which can increase a man’s chances of developing prostate cancer.

Some risk factors are out of our control and cannot be avoided such as age, family history, and race; other risk factors can be reduced by making certain lifestyle changes. The best that we can do is be armed with the information we need to make the best decisions for our health.

Here are the risk factors associated with prostate cancer:

Age: The risk of developing prostate cancer increases as a man gets older.

Race: While the reasons for the race/prostate cancer connection are still being assessed, we do know that such a link does exist. It has been shown that there is much increased risk for developing prostate cancer for black men. White men have an intermediate risk while native Japanese men tend to have the lowest risk. Many researchers believe that this is linked to levels of testosterone in the body.

Diet and Lifestyle: There are a variety of research studies currently underway that are helping to better measure the effect of diet on prostate health and especially its link to prostate cancer. Researchers believe that there is a connection between a high-fat diet (especially a diet that includes a large amount of animal fat) and an elevated risk for developing prostate cancer. There is further study being done to assess how a lower fat diet that includes more vegetables and fruit may help prevent prostate cancer. 

What prostate changes should you be aware of?

Increased age results in increased risk of prostate issues. There are three very common prostate problems that men can experience as they age:

  • Prostatitis – a prostate infection.
  • Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH) – an enlarged prostate which is a benign condition.
  • Prostate Cancer

There is also the possibility of having multiple conditions at once. However, one change in the prostate does not necessarily result in another change or the next step. In other words, if you have an enlarged prostate, you are not at higher risk for developing prostate cancer.

In fact, most prostate changes that men experience are not cancer.

Prostate Cancer Prevention

Unfortunately, there is no set formula that determines how one man gets prostate cancer and the next does not. Of course, risk factors that can be controlled – such as diet and exercise – should be addressed.

With regard to lifestyle, it helps to reduce overall cancer risk by maintaining a healthy body weight, decreasing the amount of animal fat and dairy product consumed, increasing the consumption of vegetables, fruits,Prostate Cancer Prevention fish, lean protein, cooked tomatoes, olive oil, soy, and green or black tea. Additionally, daily exercise is encouraged for reaching and maintaining an ideal weight. Smokers should also quit immediately lowering their risk for developing many forms of cancer including prostate cancer.

Regular screenings for prostate cancer are also important for maintaining prostate health. It is recommended that men have a baseline PSA test at the age of 40 and that regular screenings continue after that. Family history should be discussed with your doctor so that screenings can be adjusted accordingly.

Additionally, researchers have discovered an interesting link between men who live north of the 40° latitude in the U.S. and their risk of developing prostate cancer. It is believed that this connection is due to not being exposed to adequate sunlight during certain months of the year and a subsequent reduction in vitamin E.

There are several studies underway regarding other forms of prevention including chemoprevention, the use of drugs to inhibit and even prevent the growth of cancer and hormonal prevention during which specific drugs are used to reduce the male hormones that can feed the growth of prostate cancer.