Kent Probst, BS, MEd
Kent Probst is the owner of Long Healthy Life Blog
Why Prostate Cancer Prevention is Important
September is Prostate Cancer Awareness month, which provides an opportunity to educate people regarding this disease. Since the risk of prostate cancer increases with age, it’s important that men become aware of prostate cancer prevention.
After skin cancer, prostate cancer is the most common form of cancer in men.
The American Cancer Society estimates that 1 in 8 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in his lifetime.
Risk Factors for Prostate Cancer
Some of the risk factors for prostate cancer are out of your control, while others can be changed.
The risk factors that can’t be changed are as follows:
Age – The potential for getting prostate cancer rises rapidly after age 50. Approximately 6 out of 10 cases of prostate cancer occur in men over age 65.
Geography – Prostate cancer occurs most frequently in Australia, North America, northwestern Europe and the Caribbean islands. This may be due to less preventive screening and poor lifestyle habits.
Race/Ethnicity – Prostate cancer occurs most often in African American men and Caribbean men of African ancestry. It’s still unclear why this occurs.
Family History – Your risk of getting prostate cancer doubles if your brother or father had it. But most prostate cancer occurs in men with no family history of it. Having a brother with the disease is a greater risk than having a father with it. If you have some relatives with prostate cancer, the risk continues to rise.
Genetic Changes – Mutations of the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes through inheritance increases the risk of prostate cancer. Hereditary non-polyposis colorectal cancer, also known as Lynch Syndrome, increases the risk of prostate cancer. Genetic changes are probably only responsible for a tiny percentage of cases.
Modifiable Risk Factors
Risk factors that can be changed contribute to prostate cancer prevention.
Diet – Consuming fish, fruits, vegetables and whole grains has a protective effect against prostate cancer, whereas eating a diet high in saturated fat, trans fatty acids and processed meat increases the risk of prostate cancer.
Obesity – Epidemiological evidence demonstrates a positive association between abdominal obesity and prostate cancer. Researchers found waist circumference to be a better measure of abdominal obesity than waist-to-hip ratio.
Prostate Inflammation – The risk of prostate cancer has been shown to increase in men with prostatitis, while other research has shown no association. The American Cancer Society believes the link between prostatitis and prostate cancer is still unclear.
Smoking – The link between smoking and prostate cancer is equivocal at this time. Nonetheless, it’s still a great idea to stop smoking due to all the other health risks associated with it.
Chemical Exposure – Some studies have found a possible link between exposure to Agent Orange and prostate cancer, although the National Academy of Medicine states that the evidence is limited. Firefighters may also be at risk for prostate cancer due to chemical exposure.
Vasectomy – A meta-analysis of studies found a statistically higher risk of prostate cancer in men who underwent vasectomies. The meta-analysis also noted that more large prospective studies are needed to warrant the findings of the meta-analysis.
Exercise and Prostate Cancer
Another benefit of exercise is that it’s associated with a decreased risk of developing prostate cancer.
The American College of Sports Medicine recommends that most adults accumulate 150 minutes a week of moderate intensity aerobic exercise per week or 75 minutes of vigorous intensity aerobic exercise per week.
Strength training is recommended at least 2 days per week. Beginners can start with 8-10 exercises performed for 8-12 repetitions, 2-3 sets per exercise.
Food for Prostate Cancer Prevention
Men who regularly eat cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower have a lower risk of prostate cancer.
A study published in the International Journal of Cancer found that men who consumed the most cruciferous vegetables had a 59% decreased risk of prostate cancer progression than men who consumed the least amount of cruciferous vegetables.
Other researchers also found in a meta-analysis that the intake of cruciferous vegetables was closely related to a decreased risk of prostate cancer.
Consideration should be given to eating walnuts, since they can lower risk of prostate cancer.
Mice fed a walnut-enriched diet demonstrated a reduced number of tumors and the growth of prostate cancer compared to mice in the control group.
Walnuts have also been shown to inhibit the expression of the androgen receptor and prostate-specific antigen (PSA) in prostate cancer cells, reducing the risk of prostate cancer.
The health benefits of green tea are frequently touted throughout the news media. One benefit that gets less attention is reducing the risk of prostate cancer.
In a double-blind, placebo-controlled study, green tea catechins (GTC) were effective at inhibiting cancer growth. After one year, prostate cancer was diagnosed in only one man in the GTC-treated group, whereas prostate cancer was found in nine men in the placebo-treated group.
Green tea has also been shown to reduce prostate-specific antigen in men with prostate cancer.
Lycopene, the carotenoid in tomatoes that’s generating interest among scientists for its health benefits, is what makes tomatoes red.
An antioxidant, lycopene is able to inhibit markers of inflammation in prostate cancer cells such as nuclear factor kappa B (NF-kB). Lycopene also demonstrated the ability to inhibit prostate cancer cell growth.
Another study in the International Journal of Cancer found a reduced risk of prostate cancer among men who consumed the most tomato products and lycopene.
Lycopene is more bioavailable in processed tomato products, such as tomato paste, than unprocessed tomatoes.
Men who drink coffee regularly may be reducing their risk of prostate cancer. Coffee has phenolic acids, which have antioxidant activity.
One meta-analysis looked at the relationship between coffee consumption and prostate cancer and found a significant reduction in prostate cancer risk among men who consumed > 4 or 5 cups/day.
When adjusted for confounding variables in a prospective analysis, from 1986 to 2006 researchers found a lower relative risk of prostate cancer for men who drank coffee compared to nondrinkers.
If you’re not already eating pomegranate, you may want to add it to your diet.
Pomegranate has the ability to positively alter biomarkers of androgen signaling and oxidative stress in prostate tumors and surrounding tissue.
In prostate cancer patients, 8 ounces of pomegranate daily resulted in decreased PSA doubling time, inhibition of cancer cell proliferation and increased apoptosis (programmed cell death) of cancer cells. The positive results prompted the authors to recommend additional research in a placebo-controlled study.
A range of studies demonstrate that pomegranate has the following benefits regarding prostate cancer:
Nutrients for Prevention
Well known for benefiting the immune system, vitamin D is showing promise when it comes to fighting prostate cancer.
High blood plasma levels of vitamin D were found to be associated with less risk of lethal prostate cancer by researchers.
Many people around the world are familiar with the yellow tropical root turmeric. It’s widely used as a spice for cooking. Turmeric is also popular due to the health benefits of curcumin, a polyphenol compound in the root.
Curcumin is another key to prostate cancer prevention.
In multiple in vitro and in vivo studies, curcumin has been shown to be effective against prostate cancer in multiple ways.
Curcumin combats cancer through its anti-inflammatory properties, by apoptosis of cancer cells, and preventing tumor growth.
A trace mineral, boron is essential for many different functions within the human body.
One of those functions is as an agent that can prevent prostate cancer.
After taking into account confounding variables, it was found that men who consumed greater amounts of boron had a 54% lower risk of prostate cancer than men who consumed the least amount of boron.
In an animal study, mice with prostate tumors given low and high doses of boron saw tumor size decrease 38% and 25%, respectively. PSA levels also decreased by 88.6% and 86.4% respectively in the treatment group compared to the control group.
Grapeseed extract (GSE) which contains proanthocyanidins, is being studied for its apparent wide ranging health benefits.
GSE is also demonstrating positive results when it comes to prostate cancer.
Prostate cancer progression and growth were inhibited by GSE (orally) in TRAMP mice, aged 4 to 28 weeks with no adverse health effects. GSE also contributed to enhanced apoptosis of cancer cells, as well as decreased cell proliferation.
Conventional Prostate Cancer Screening
The following guideline is for men who have not been diagnosed with prostate cancer:
The American Cancer Society recommends getting a PSA blood test every 2 years if your PSA level is less than 2.5 ng/mL.
A PSA test is recommended yearly if your PSA level is greater than 2.5 ng/mL.
If your PSA test isn’t normal, your doctor may recommend a digital prostate exam, or other screening tests.
Reducing Your Risk of Prostate Cancer
Following a healthy diet, such as the Mediterranean diet, exercising regularly, getting good nutritional support, and getting regular prostate cancer screenings can reduce your risk of prostate cancer.
To increase your chances of success, one thing to remember is to maintain consistency with your health regimen.
Staying healthy is a lifestyle and a lifelong journey on the path to prostate cancer prevention.
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