Prostate cancer usually affects men over the age of 65 and is the second most common cancer in men in the United States. In fact, it is estimated that one in every eight men will develop prostate cancer at some point during their life. Prostate cancer is typically slow growing and is highly treatable if caught in the early stages. The exact causes of prostate cancer are still unknown, but researchers have identified certain factors that may increase your risk of developing prostate cancer over time. Risk factors like age and race cannot be controlled, but other lifestyle choices can significantly reduce your risk of developing prostate cancer.
Risk Factors You Can’t Control
Age: The risk of prostate cancer increases as men age. 60% of prostate cancers are diagnosed in men over the age of 65.
Ethnicity: Black men are 70% more likely to develop prostate cancer than Caucasians, Asian, or Hispanic men. Black men, unfortunately, also have an increased risk of their cancer being more aggressive with poor outcomes.
Family History and Genetics: Men with a father or brother with a history of prostate cancer before age 60 are two times more likely to develop prostate cancer. Specific genetic mutations have also been identified to increase the risk of prostate cancer, including BRCA1 and BRCA2.
Personal History of Cancer: Men with a history of kidney, bladder, and lung cancer may have an increased risk of developing prostate cancer as they age.
Height: The correlation is not entirely understood, but scientists have identified that taller men may have an increased risk of developing prostate cancer.
Risk Factors You Can Control
Obesity: Overweight men are diagnosed with prostate cancer more often than men who maintain a healthy weight.
Sedentary Lifestyle: Lack of exercise is directly linked with obesity, a known risk factor for prostate cancer. Exercise benefits your overall health and can also help your body release essential hormones that can help protect your prostate from developing cancer.
Smoking: Smoking can increase the risk of prostate cancer in one of two ways — the first by affecting circulating hormones in the body and the second through exposure to carcinogens. Smoking is detrimental to your overall health and should be avoided.
Diet: Research has shown that men who eat a diet high in calcium may have a greater risk of developing cancer. Alternatively, men who eat many fresh fruits and vegetables, low-fat dairy products, and lean meats may reduce their risk of developing prostate cancer. Brazil nuts may also help to decrease the risk of prostate cancer as they are high in selenium which has been shown to reduce the risk of developing cancer.
Find Prostate Cancer Early
While there are some steps you can take to reduce your risk of developing prostate cancer, it may still happen. Finding it early is the best way to make sure that it is the easiest to treat. Men should have a prostate-specific antigen (PSA)test in their 40s to know their baseline number. At the age of 50, men should have annual prostate cancer screening performed.
Make an appointment to discuss how to reduce your risk of developing prostate cancer and start your annual screenings!