If you’ve been told you have cancer, you know it’s a life-changing event.
For men, prostate cancer is high on the list of potentially life-changing events. In fact, it is the second most common cancer in men, affecting 1 in 52 men ages 50 to 59 and 6 in 10 men over age 65. The average age of men at diagnosis is about 66.
But there is good news. Advances in treatment and a renewed emphasis on the importance of routine screenings have helped to significantly reduce the rate of prostate cancer deaths since mid-1990s.
Every man must grapple with the increased prostate cancer risk that goes hand-in-hand with the aging process. Others may have to pay a little more attention to risks due to genetics and ancestry. Even more may need to make changes to daily lifestyle and habits.
No matter where you are in the risk mix, there are many ways to proactively manage your prostate cancer risk. Working with your doctor, you can assess and address risks to help lower your chances of having to deal with a life-changing prostate cancer diagnosis.
An Aging Prostate
Prostate cancer is rare in most men younger than 40, unless they are in higher-risk groups or have a family history of certain genetic cancers. The chance of developing prostate cancer rises after age 50 and increases significantly for men over 65.
Genetics Are a Key Factor
There is plenty of evidence that genetics play a big role in prostate health. But genetics can be tricky, especially if you don’t know your family history.
For example, some breast cancers and prostate cancer may be related. Men with a family history of testosterone (prostate) or estrogen (BRCA) derived cancer could very well have an increased genetic predisposition to prostate cancer. That means if there’s a history of breast cancer in your family, you could be genetically predisposed to a prostate cancer diagnosis.
But you don’t have to leave your genes and prostate health to chance. If you don’t know your family’s history, genetic testing is an option.
Your doctor can help you figure out tests that are right for your situation.
Screenings Are Ground Zero
Screenings are a key tool in staying on top of prostate health, especially for men who are of African American, Latino, and Northern European descent, all of which have higher risks for prostate cancer than other ethnicities. It’s recommended that if you’re in a higher-risk group, you may want to start prostate cancer screenings earlier than the usual 55- to 70-year-old time frame.
Combining genetic testing and screenings can be doubly effective in staying on top of what’s happening in your body.
What About Comorbidities?
Other health conditions — known as comorbidities — can boost your risk factors for prostate cancer. They can include:
- Uncontrolled diabetes (insulin-like growth factor)
- Alcohol consumption
How To Decrease Prostate Cancer Risk
Lifestyle and diet changes are the most common activities that can reduce heart disease and hypertension, and can lower your odds of developing prostate cancer.
Here are seven other ways you can lower your risk. Some may surprise you.
- Try aerobic exercise, such as running, swimming and brisk walking, to help improve circulation and lower heart rate and blood pressure.
- Consider resistance/strength training to help build muscle and lower body fat (a key risk factor for heart disease).
- Add in stretching and flexibility training. It’s not directly related to heart health but can benefit your musculoskeletal health, which enables you to continue with aerobic and resistance/strength training minus any pain or injury.
- Eat a diet low in saturated fat. Your prostate is a very vascular organ, therefore the same diet beneficial for heart health can be extremely beneficial for prostate health.
- Lay off the grill. Charred red meat should be limited. Instead, when looking for protein-based calories, opt for more chicken or fish.
- Fall in love with tomatoes. Tomatoes contain a powerful antioxidant called lycopene. Studies suggest that men who consume canned and cooked tomatoes five or six times a week can lower their risk of prostate cancer by 28%. So go nuts with the tomato sauce (just hold the extra salt).
- Enjoy intimacy. Yes, you read that right. A higher number of ejaculates per month (21 or more) helps to prevent a type of inflammation that can be oncogenic (cancerous).
- Adding soy, green tea and other supplements to your diet
Reduce Your Risk – Talk with Your Doctor
Understanding your prostate cancer risks can be overwhelming — but you have options. Get started by talking to your doctor. Together, you can develop a plan to help lower or manage your prostate cancer risk and enhance your overall health.
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