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Early Puberty Can Increase Prostate Cancer Risk

Boys who enter puberty at younger ages might be at higher risk for developing prostate cancer down the road. That finding came from a recent study that looked at genetic data related to nearly 3,000 men. Some of the men in the study had prostate cancer and others did not.

During the course of the study, researchers found that men who reached sexual maturity earlier were more likely to develop prostate cancer. While the reason behind the finding are not fully understood, it is believed that longer exposure to growth hormones might be to blame. Researchers also found that boys who matured at later ages not only had lower overall risks, but also lower risks for more aggressive forms of the disease.

While much more research needs to be done to better understand the role early maturity may play, the initial findings offer a new path for clinicians to explore. This path may one day lead to a greater understanding of prostate cancer and actions that might help prevent it or at least lower risks. At present, the findings may indicate that boys who mature earlier may need to take extra steps to lower other risk factors for the disease. Healthy lifestyle choices, for example, could be especially important for those who mature early.

Prostate cancer strikes an estimated 180,000 American men each year. The disease is responsible for about 26,000 American deaths annually. All men are technically at risk for the formation of this disease as they age. Addressing risk factors, such as diet, obesity and chemical exposure, may help lower a man’s risk.

Since prostate cancer can strike any man, it is recommended men begin undergoing routine screening for the disease around the age of 50. Men should, however, discuss their risk factors with their doctors sooner. Early detection of this disease can greatly increase the chances of successful treatment.