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Risk Factors for Prostate Cancer

IMRT & Prostate Cancer High Dose Radiation Therapy

Who is at risk for prostate cancer?

Risk refers to the chances a man has of developing prostate cancer. The bottom line is that if you have a prostate, you are at some level of risk for the development of prostate cancer. This means that virtually all men are at risk. There are certain factors that can increase the chances a man has to develop the disease, however.

Age is the most common factor. Three-quarters of men diagnosed with prostate cancer annually are over the age of 65. Other risk factors that increase a man’s odds of developing prostate cancer include diet, race, and family history. Of course, some of these risk factors are outside our control, and we can’t avoid them, like family history, race, and age. We can reduce other risk factors like diet by changing some parts of our lifestyle. The best anyone can do is to stay informed and make the best decisions you can, based on the information available.

Below we go over each of the risk factors associated with prostate cancer in detail:

  • Age: As men age, the risk that they develop prostate cancer rises.
  • Race:The relationship between prostate cancer and race is still being researched, but we can say that a link exists. Research so far suggests that black men are at an increased risk. Men of Japanese descent have the lowest level of risk, while white men have an intermediate level of risk. Researchers are inclined to believe that risk level may be associated with the body’s levels of testosterone.
  • Diet and Lifestyle: Current research projects are underway that are designed to measure more accurately the effects diet may have on prostate health, and more specifically, the link diet has to prostate cancer. Some research has indicated that a high-fat diet (especially animal fat) is connected to a higher risk of prostate cancer development. Further research is currently being done to examine whether a lower-fat diet that includes more fruits and vegetables could help to prevent prostate cancer. 

What prostate changes should you be aware of?

We already know that the older a man is, the higher their risk is of developing prostate cancer. There are three common problems with the prostate men may experience as they age:

  • Prostatic hyperplasia (BPH): the prostate is enlarged, this condition is benign.
  • Prostatitis: an infection of the prostate.
  • Prostate Cancer

It is possible for a man to have more than one of these conditions at the same time. One change in the prostate doesn’t always mean other changes or steps are coming. An enlarged prostate, for example, is not indicative of a higher risk of prostate cancer.

The majority of changes in the prostate are not cancer-related.

Prostate Cancer Prevention

Though you can address some risk factors, there is no set plan that can determine who gets prostate cancer and who doesn’t. Keeping the controllable risk factors managed does reduce the risk.

In regards to lifestyle, maintain a healthy body weight, increasing vegetable and fruit consumption, reducing the consumption of dairy products and animal fat,Prostate Cancer Prevention focusing on lean proteins, fish, olive oil, soy, cooked tomatoes, and green or black tea can reduce a person’s overall risk of cancer. Having a daily exercise regimen is recommended to reach and/or maintain a healthy weight. Smoking greatly increases the risk for many forms of cancer, so smokers are strongly encouraged to quit immediately.

Preventative care like regular prostate cancer screenings is important for prostate health. At age 40, men are recommended to start taking a baseline PSA test with regular screenings to monitor PSA level changes. Always discuss your family history with your doctor so they can adjust screenings and preventative care accordingly.

In addition to preventative care, researchers recently discovered that men who live in the northern United States, above the 40° latitude have a higher risk of prostate cancer. It is thought that the reduction in vitamin E associated with reduced sunlight exposure in the winter months is a contributing factor.

Several studies currently underway are examining other prevention forms like chemoprevention and drug inhibitors to slow down or prevent the growth of any cancer. Studies are also looking at hormonal prevention, which uses specific drugs to lower the male hormones linked with feeding the growth of cancerous cells in the prostate.