Though significant progress in research has been made on prostate cancer prevention, the goal to prevent men from developing the disease has not yet been achieved. Genetic and environmental risk factors for prostate cancer have been identified, but for men at risk for developing prostate cancer, the evidence is not yet strong enough.
Some success has been made however, with strategies that can delay the development and progression of prostate cancer, which included a study on finasteride and dutasteride, which are used for men with the noncancerous condition, BPH. More on this study can be found at http://www.cancer.gov/clinicaltrials/noteworthy-trials/pcpt/Page1.
Modifications to both diet and lifestyle have been shown to reduce the risk of prostate cancer development and progression. These modifications can also help men with prostate cancer live longer and better lives.
Major Factors that cause prostate cancer
Understanding what causes prostate cancer can be key to understanding how to prevent the disease. There are four major factors that influence one’s risk of developing prostate cancer. They are as follows:
Age: More than 65 percent of all prostate cancers are diagnosed in men over the age of 65, with an average age of diagnosis in the United States at 69 years-old. After that age, the chance of developing prostate cancer becomes more common than any other cancer in men or women. Though the older you are, the more likely you are to be diagnosed with prostate cancer, many men under 69 years of age are diagnosed. 1 in 10,000 men under the age of 40 will be diagnosed, 1 in 38 for ages 40 to 59 and 1 in 15 for ages 60 to 69.
Race: African-American men are 60 percent more likely to develop prostate cancer compared with Caucasian men and are nearly 2.5 times as likely to die from the disease. However, men who live in Asia have the lowest risk of getting prostate cancer.
Family history/genetics: If a man’s father or brother has developed prostate cancer in their lifetime, he is twice as likely to develop the disease. Increased risk continues if the cancer was diagnosed in family members at a younger age (less than 55 years of age) or if it affected three or more family members. Additionally, some genes increase mutation rates while others may predispose a man to infection or viral infections that lead to prostate cancer.
Where you live: For men living in the United States, the risk of developing prostate cancer is 17 percent. For men living in China, the risk is only 2 percent. However, when Chinese men move to western cultures, their risk increases substantially.
The top-10 considerations for preventing prostate cancer
Despite the unchangeable factors that contribute to a prostate cancer diagnosis, there are many things a man can do to delay or reduce their risk of developing prostate cancer. A common question asked by scientists and research professionals is why prostate cancer is so common in Western cultures and much less prevalent in Asia—and why when Asian men migrate to Western countries they have a higher risk to develop the disease over time. Many believe the major risk factor is diet—foods that produce oxidative damage to DNA. So, what can you do to prevent or delay the onset of the disease?
- Exercise more and eat fewer calories to maintain a healthy weight.
- Limit the amount of fat you get from red meats and dairy products.
- Do not take supplemental doses of calcium that are far above the recommended daily allowance. Some calcium is okay, but avoid taking more than 1,500 mg per day.
- Avoid over-supplementation with megavitamins. Too many vitamins, especially folate, which is considered a fuel to prostate cancer. While multivitamins may not be harmful, if you follow a healthy diet with lots of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, fish and healthy oils, you may not even need a multivitamin.
- Diets high in omega-3 fatty acids, prevalent in fish, can protect against prostate cancer because they contain “good fats.” Avoid trans fatty acids (found in margarine).
- Olive oil has been shown to be beneficial, and should be used to cook tomatoes and other cruciferous vegetables (like broccoli and cauliflower). Soy and green tea are also potential dietary components that may be helpful.
- Alcohol should be used in moderation, if at all. Avoid smoking for many reasons.
- Talk to a medical professional if you have high stress, high blood pressure, high cholesterol or depression. Treating conditions like these may save your live and may improve overall survivorship for those with prostate cancer.
- Reducing stress in the workplace and at home will improve survivorship and lead to a longer, happier life. Relax and enjoy life.
- Maintain an overall balanced diet. Though eating all the broccoli in the world may make a difference in the long run, it does not take away your risk of having prostate cancer right now. If you are 50 or older, or if you are 40 and African-American or have a family history of prostate cancer, you need more than a good diet. You should consider a yearly rectal examination and PSA blood test.