Over 240,000 men are diagnosed with prostate cancer each year – more than lung, colon and brain cancers combined. Meanwhile, over 28,000 die each year from prostate cancer. Some of the main factors that contribute to prostate cancer risk, namely age, race and family history, are out of a man’s control. Fortunately, there are several steps men can take to help reduce their risk of developing this disease.
[Related – Prostate Cancer Screening Guidelines]
One of the most important ways to prevent prostate cancer you can is to eat a low-fat diet. High-fat diets have been linked to prostate cancer, so it’s important to reduce your fat intake. This is especially important when it comes to saturated fats. Consume fatty foods like meat, nuts, oils and dairy products in moderation. It helps to also switch to low-fat varieties of these foods, such as low-fat milk and leaner cuts of meat. For tips on how to choose the healthiest cuts of meat to help prevent prostate cancer, see The Leanest Cuts Of Beef For A Healthy Diet.
An exception to the low-fat diet rule is fatty fish. Salmon, tuna, trout and sardines contain omega-3, a fatty acid that can help reduce your risk of developing prostate cancer. Incorporate these foods into your diet if you don’t already. If you want to learn more about omega-3 and other types of fat, check out Dietary Fats: Separating The Bad From The Good.
Many health professionals recommend eating more fruits and veggies in order to up your vitamin and nutrient intake. In addition to being good for your general health, these nutrients and vitamins are thought to reduce the risk of prostate cancer. However, more research is needed to confirm the exact links.
Men who eat the soy product tofu were found to have a lower risk of developing prostate cancer. This has been attributed to a nutrient called isoflavones which are found in soy beans. You can also get isoflavones from chickpeas, lentils, kidney beans and peanuts.
Several studies have found that men who drink green tea have a lower risk of developing prostate cancer. If you aren’t a fan of tea, consider taking a green tea extract, which was found to have the same effects. If you need more reasons to convince you to drink green tea, then you should see Health Benefits Of Drinking Green Tea.
Another important factor in reducing your prostate cancer risk is maintaining a healthy weight. Being obese increases your risk of prostate cancer (men with a body mass index of 30 or higher are considered obese). Those who are overweight should exercise more and cut calories, while those who are currently at a healthy weight should maintain it by exercising regularly and eating a healthy diet.
Many studies find that men who exercise may have a lower risk of prostate cancer. Though more evidence is necessary to confirm this link, exercise has been shown to help maintain or achieve a healthy weight, which has been linked to a lower risk for prostate cancer. Start out slowly if you do not currently exercise, but aim to increase your physical activity gradually until you are able to exercise at a moderate intensity for at least 30 minutes on most days of the week.
Regular ejaculation may help reduce your risk of prostate cancer. According to one Australian study, men who masturbated five or more times a week were 34 percent less likely to develop prostate cancer by age 70 than those who did so less often. This is thought to be because semen contains substances that are carcinogenic. Men’s Health magazine reports that having sex rather than masturbating offers the same benefits.
Some men may be eligible for medications that have been developed to reduce the risk of prostate cancer. These drugs are called 5-alpha reductase inhibitors; they block the 5-alpha reductase enzyme, which changes testosterone into dihydrotestosterone, the main hormone responsible for prostate growth.
There are currently two 5-alpha reductase inhibitors being studied to see their effects on prostate cancer risk – finasteride and dutasteride. The drugs appear to be effective in lowering risk, but there are possible side effects, including impotence and decreased libido. In addition, men who took these drugs had more cases of prostate cancer that appeared to be a type that would spread and grow quickly.
Currently, not all doctors agree that these drugs should be taken to reduce prostate cancer risk. Individual risk due to other factors should be taken into consideration by those who are thinking about taking these drugs to reduce their risk. Talk to your doctor to learn more about these medications to see if they are right for you.
If you are a man age 50 or older, talk to your doctor about getting routine screenings for prostate cancer. Those who are considered to be at a higher risk for this type of cancer may need screenings as early as age 40. Fortunately, many cases of prostate cancer can be cured when detected early.