Prostate cancer is the second most common cancer among men (skin cancer is the first), according to the American Cancer Society (ACS). In 2007 alone, nearly 219,000 new cases of prostate cancer are expected in the United States, and over 27,000 men will die from the disease.
It is much better to avoid any form of cancer than to try and treat it after it has appeared. Prostate cancer, however, is usually a slow growing form of cancer which responds well to treatment.
However, although one in six men will get prostate cancer during his lifetime, only one in 34 die from the disease. This is because prostate cancer is often slow growing (though it can at times grow quickly), and men may have the disease and not even know it.
Though it’s not known exactly what causes this disease, there are several known risk factors, some of which you can easily control to reduce your risk of prostate cancer.
The Top Causes of Prostate Cancer
- Age: Your risk of prostate cancer increases with age, particularly among men over 65 years old.
- Family history: If a close relative (father, brother) had prostate cancer, it will increase your risk.
- Diet: Men who eat a lot of processed meat, bad fats and refined grains have an increased risk of prostate cancer, particularly if they don’t eat a lot of fruits and vegetables.
- Exercise: Exercise is generally known to reduce the risk of all types of cancer, however men over 65 who exercise vigorously have been found to have a lower risk of prostate cancer, specifically.
- Ethnicity: African-American men have the highest rates of prostate cancer in the world, according to the Harvard Center for Cancer Prevention.
- Environmental chemicals: Researchers are focusing increasingly on the potential chemical causes of prostate cancer. Exposure to pesticides has been linked with an increased risk, as has in-utero exposure to the plastics chemical bisphenol A (BPA) and other hormone-mimicking environmental contaminants.
- Cadmium: Exposure to excess levels of cadmium is also known to increase prostate cancer risk. Cadmium is found in foods (shellfish, liver and kidney meats have the highest levels), cigarette smoke, and contaminated air and water (particularly if you live near, or work in, a facility that manufactures batteries, pigments, metal coatings or plastics).
- Too many vitamins: Men who take excessive levels of vitamins — more than seven multivitamins a week — may be increasing their risk of prostate cancer by 30 percent, according to researchers at the National Cancer Institute.
- Too much, or too little, vitamin D. Men who had vitamin D deficiency, or excess vitamin D, both had an increased risk of prostate cancer, according to a study in the International Journal of Cancer.
- Vasectomy: Several studies have suggested that men who have had a
vasectomy have a slightly higher risk of prostate cancer.
How to Lower Your Risk of Prostate Cancer
Although some risk factors of prostate cancer, like age, ethnicity and family history, are obviously beyond your control, there are plenty of factors that you DO have control over. Making the following changes may help to reduce your risk of this widespread cancer:
- Eat more tomato-based foods.Tomatoes (particularly cooked varieties such as tomato sauces, paste and ketchup) are rich in the antioxidant lycopene, which is known to prevent damage to DNA and fight prostate cancer. Pink grapefruit and watermelon are also good sources of lycopene. Lycopene is not destroyed by cooking and is hence found in tomato sauce, tomato paste and in all your favorite Italian dishes!
- Isoflavones found in soy beans and it’s products such as soy milk or tofu has a balancing effect on the body’s hormones. Isoflavones can counter excess testosterone which can lead to prostate cancer.
- Beta-carotene found in carrots and other brightly coloured vegetables can stimulate T-helper cells which prevent the development of cancer.
- Eat less processed meat and bad fats. Limiting your intake of processed meats like bacon, sausage and luncheon meats, along with your intake of bad fats, like trans fats, may also help reduce your risk.
- Watch your calcium intake. Getting too much calcium (beyond the recommended 1200 milligrams per day) could actually increase your risk of prostate cancer, according to the Harvard Center for Cancer Prevention.
- Consume more selenium. Selenium is thought to protect against cancer through its antioxidant content. It also may slow or prevent tumor growth by enhancing the immune system and suppressing blood vessels to the tumor. Foods rich in selenium include Brazil nuts, tuna, chicken, turkey, beef, brown rice, eggs and sunflower seeds. Selenium is a powerful antioxidant and is a crucial mineral in the fight against cancer. In some studies, a daily intake of 200 micrograms of selenium cut the incidence of prostate cancer by sixty percent. Selenium is safe and inexpensive, but large doses of this should not be taken without a doctors supervision.
- Saw Palmetto. This herb is know to help shrink prostate tissue. It can also block the effect of the male hormones like testosterone which feed prostate cancer.
- Fish Oil has high levels of fatty acids, which is the component of fat which helps to fight cancer. Try using good old fashioned cod-liver oil, as it contains optimal levels of fatty acids and vitamins A and D. Two teaspoons a day is recommended, but use under the supervision of your doctor. If you can’t quite stomach this, four 1,000 milligram capsules a day of flaxseed oil is also rich in fatty acids. Pumpkin seed oil is another great one, as it supplies the prostate gland with nutrients like zinc and magnesium that it needs to heal.
- Exercise regularly. Exercise will not only reduce your risk of prostate cancer, but just about every other type of cancer as well.
- Don’t smoke. This will increase your levels of cadmium.
- Drink lots of water – water is vital for health. It prevents hunger and flushes toxins from the body. Six to eight glasses a day is ideal and tea and coffee doesn’t count towards this!
- Cut down on alcohol. There’s nothing wrong with the odd drink, just don’t make it a daily habit.
- Avoid exposure to environmental chemicals. As much as possible, try to limit your exposure to pesticides and BPA (found in tooth sealants, plastic containers and bottles, microwave ovenware and more).
- Get the proper amount of vitamin D. Vitamin D inhibits the development and growth of prostate cancer cells. Experts say 15-20 minutes of sunlight a day is an ideal amount for a light-skinned person to produce the right amount of vitamin D.
- And last, but not least, a person’s mental dispositioncan have a direct effect on the health of the body. Emotions such as anger, stress and depression can have a damaging effect on the immune system and can lead to diseases such as cancer or heart problems.
Prevention of disease doesn’t need to be a bore. In fact, keeping things fun and exciting is a great way to ensure that you’ll actually follow through. So try these fun ways to prevent prostate cancer or do a little research and come up with some fun prevention techniques of your own. You’ll surely enjoy the results.
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