Prostate Cancer Prevention

Can you prevent prostate cancer? While there is no sure-fire way to prevent this disease, you can reduce your risk by addressing the risk factors (like diet and lifestyle) and increasing the protective factors. However, not everyone who does this is guaranteed to not get cancer. Studies are underway to investigate if avoiding a diet high in fat (especially animal fat) may help in preventing the disease.

Prostate Cancer Prevention: An Introduction

Doctors cannot always explain why one person gets prostate cancer and another does not. However, scientists have studied general patterns of cancer in the population to learn what things around us and what things we do in our lives may increase our chances of developing the disease.
Anything that increases a person's chances of developing prostate cancer is called a prostate cancer risk factor; anything that decreases a person's chances is called a prostate cancer protective factor. Some of the risk factors for prostate cancer can be avoided, but many cannot. For example, although you can choose to eat a low fat diet and lots of fruits and vegetables, you cannot choose which genes you have inherited from your parents.
Doing your best at preventing prostate cancer means avoiding the risk factors and increasing the protective factors that can be controlled so that the chances of developing the condition decreases.

Know the Risk Factors and the Protective Factors

Prostate cancer can sometimes be associated with known risk factors for the disease. Many risk factors are modifiable, though not all can be avoided.
  • Age: The risk of developing prostate cancer increases as a man gets older.
  • Chemoprevention: Chemoprevention is the use of specific natural or manmade drugs, vitamins, or other agents to reverse, suppress, or prevent cancer growth. Several agents, including difluoromethylornithine (DFMO), isoflavonoids, selenium, vitamins D and E, and lycopene, have shown potential benefit in studies. Further studies are needed to confirm this.
  • Diet and lifestyle: The effect of diet on a person's risk for prostate cancer is being studied. A diet high in fat, especially animal fat, may be associated with an increased risk of prostate cancer. More studies are needed to determine if a low-fat diet with more fruits and vegetables helps prevent prostate cancer.
  • Hormonal prevention: Studies are underway to discover the role of certain drugs, such as finasteride, that reduce the amount of male hormone as a prostate cancer prevention method.
  • Race: The risk of prostate cancer is dramatically higher among blacks, intermediate among whites, and lowest among native Japanese. However, this increase in risk may be due to other factors associated with race. Studies have shown a link between levels of testosterone and an increased risk of prostate cancer, with black men having the highest levels.


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