Michael Hunter, MD on Medika Life

7 Tips to Lower Your Prostate Cancer Risk — Using Lifestyle and Screening

PROSTATE CANCER RISK IS RISING IN THE USA, despite cancer mortality declining by one-third since 1991. However, a recent American Cancer Society report highlights a three percent annual increase in prostate cancer incidence from 2014 to 2019. Today we look at seven tips to lower prostate cancer risk using lifestyle and screening.

Moreover, this rise coincides with a four to five percent annual increase in advanced-stage prostate cancer diagnoses since 2011; the proportion of men diagnosed with distant spread of cancer (metastases) doubled.

I am concerned each day as we continue to see an increasing proportion of men with more advanced prostate cancer in my oncology clinic. Today, I want to focus on seven ways men can reduce their risk of getting (or dying from) prostate cancer.

Men need to be aware of the health of their bodies, as well — prostate cancer and breast cancer are almost on the same level. It’s fascinating that the correlation between the two is almost the same — people don’t talk about it so much, but they are almost equal in numbers. — Olivia Newton-John

Let’s look at seven ways men can drop their prostate cancer risk.

1. Dropping prostate cancer risk through diet

While we don’t fully understand the relationship between diet and prostate cancer risk, studies suggest that certain eating habits may be beneficial.

  • Reduce fat intake. Eat less trans and saturated fats. Incorporate healthy fats such as omega-3 fatty acids from fish, nuts, and seeds into your diet.
  • Eat more fruits and vegetables. Consume a wide variety of produce, including lots of leafy greens. The antioxidant lycopene in cooked or processed tomatoes may slow prostate cancer cell growth. Cruciferous vegetables (for example, cauliflower and broccoli) contain sulforaphane, which may reduce cancer risk.
Photo by Rajat sarki on Unsplash
  • Consider soy and green tea. Some clinical studies hint that soy can lower a measure of prostate cancer activity (prostate-specific antigen or PSA). Green tea consumption may help men at higher risk for prostate cancer.
  • Avoid charred meat. The charred meat (from grilling or frying at high temperatures) may produce chemical compounds associated with cancer.

2. Drop prostate cancer risk through exercise

Harvard Chan School scientists study homed in on a common molecular alteration in prostate tumors called TMPRSS2:ERG. This gene fusion occurs in about one-half of prostate cancers. The study showed for the first time that long-term vigorous physical activity is associated with a lower risk of developing TMPRSS2:ERG-positive prostate cancers.3. Stop Smoking and

3. Drink Less and don’t smoke

Quitting smoking lowers cancer risk. For those who enjoy alcohol, please consider doing so in moderation. The Prostate Cancer Foundation offers this chill observation: You can safely have one daily drink.

4. Drop prostate cancer risk: Stay sexually active

Men with a higher frequency of ejaculation (with or without a sexual partner) are less likely to be diagnosed with prostate cancer.

For example, a 2016 Harvard study discovered that ejaculating over 20 times monthly reduced prostate cancer risk by about one-fifth compared to ejaculating only four to seven times per month for men in their 20s and 40s, respectively.

While investigations continue, some experts postulate that ejaculation clears the body of toxins and other substances that could cause inflammation.

5. Maintain a Healthy Weight

The American Cancer Society offers that obesity is a risk factor for developing more aggressive prostate cancer. Maintaining a healthy weight as you age can reduce your cancer risk and many other health problems.

Photo by Luemen Rutkowski on Unsplash

6. Family history

While prostate cancer runs in some families, most cases occur in men with no history of the disease. Still, having a father or brother with prostate cancer doubles a man’s risk (higher if you have a brother with it than a father). Having several affected relatives further increase risk, especially if the relatives were young at diagnosis.

Inherited mutations in BRCA1 or BRCA2 (breast cancer genes 1 and 2) increase prostate cancer risk in men. Men with Lynch syndrome (hereditary non-polyposis colorectal cancer) have a higher risk of numerous cancers, including prostate cancer. Other inherited gene changes can also raise risk: What Causes Prostate Cancer?

7. Get appropriate screening

The American Cancer Society (ACS) recommends that men have a chance to make an informed decision with their healthcare provider about whether to have prostate cancer screening. The decision should be made after getting information about the uncertainties, risks, and potential benefits of prostate cancer screening.

The discussion about screening should take place at:

  • Age 50 for men with an average risk of prostate cancer and a life expectancy of at least ten years.
  • Age 45 for men at high risk of developing prostate cancer. The high-risk group includes African Americans and men who have a first-degree relative (father or brother) diagnosed with prostate cancer at an early age (younger than age 65).
  • Age 40 for men at even higher risk (those with more than one first-degree relative who had prostate cancer at an early age).

Two more quick observations: Some studies suggest good vitamin D levels are associated with a lower risk of prostate cancer. There is some evidence that firefighters exposed to certain chemicals might have a higher risk of prostate cancer.

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Michael Hunter, MD
I received an undergraduate degree from Harvard, a medical degree from Yale, and trained in radiation oncology at the University of Pennsylvania. I practice radiation oncology in the Seattle area.

Michael Hunter, MD

I received an undergraduate degree from Harvard, a medical degree from Yale, and trained in radiation oncology at the University of Pennsylvania. I practice radiation oncology in the Seattle area.

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