When considering taking steps to help lower your risk of prostate cancer, you should keep in mind that some risk factors are beyond your control. There's very little you can do if your family has a history of prostate cancer, for example.
While there’s no proven way to prevent prostate cancer completely, simple changes made today can go a long way in reducing your risk.
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Maintaining a healthy diet can help reduce your risk of prostate cancer. Go easy on foods high in fat, but consume plenty of those supporting good prostate health.
Eat more tomatoes and red foods
Studies¹ suggest that men who eat tomatoes and other red fruits, such as watermelon, have a considerably lower risk of prostate cancer than those who don't. The red color in these fruits is from a powerful antioxidant, lycopene, which works to keep your prostate healthy.
Eat more fruits and vegetables generally
The nutrients in fruits and vegetables may help lower your risk of developing prostate cancer². Green vegetables contain compounds that help break down the carcinogens responsible for causing cancer.
Add soybeans and green tea to your meals
A 2014 review³ of controlled studies linked isoflavones, a nutrient common in soybeans, to a reduced risk of prostate cancer. You can also get this nutrient from eating lentils, peanuts, chickpeas, alfalfa sprouts, and tofu.
Another study⁴ revealed that men who drink green tea or its supplements had a lower risk of prostate cancer than those who don't.
Drink more coffee
One study⁵ found men who drank more than six cups of coffee per day had a 59% lower chance of developing aggressive prostate cancer compared with those who did not drink any. While this is encouraging, it’s still not known how effective drinking coffee is in preventing prostate cancer. Additionally, too much caffeine can cause significant health issues, such as seizures or high blood pressure.
Avoid fatty foods
There is an increased risk associated with high-fat diets and eating burned or charred foods. A low-fat diet may be beneficial for men at high risk of developing prostate cancer.
Obesity appears to be the diet-related factor most strongly associated with prostate cancer, so be aware of your overall energy intake.
Research⁶ has found that being obese - specifically with a waist circumference of more than 85cm - is linked with an increased risk of developing prostate cancer.
The best way to achieve and maintain a healthy weight is by exercising regularly. That doesn’t mean you have to join a gym or purchase expensive equipment. Simple no-cost exercises like walking or jogging can make a real difference when done regularly.
Some drugs may be used to help reduce the risk of prostate cancer. One such drug is the 5-Alpha Reductase Inhibitors (ARI). The 5-Alpha reductase is a body enzyme that changes testosterone to dihydrotestosterone (DHT), the hormone that causes your prostate to grow.
5-Alpha reductase inhibitor drugs, such as Proscar (finasteride) and Avodart (dutasteride), may help prevent prostate cancer since they stop the prostate gland from enlarging. It has been suggested⁷ that men who take these drugs for several years are less likely to develop prostate cancer than those men on an inactive placebo.
You'll need to talk to your doctor about if these drugs are suitable for you since they can have various side effects. Their use may result in erectile dysfunction and reduced sexual desire and may cause breast tissue growth in some men. However, they can also help with prostate problems such as incontinence.
The best way to prevent prostate cancer from developing is to catch it early. And the only way to detect prostate cancer early is through regular screening.
Your doctor can do this with a PSA blood test, which measures the level of an antigen called prostatic-specific antigen in your blood. Some doctors also use digital rectal exams (DREs) to examine the growth and size of your prostate gland from your rectum.
Regular screening will help you monitor your prostate health and allow you to begin treatment immediately in case signs of prostate cancer begin to show.
Findings⁸ suggest that smokers have a higher chance of prostate cancer coming back after remission and are more likely to die from the disease than their non-smoking counterparts.
Fish oil and Omega-3
Research suggests⁹ that eating lots of oily fish or fish oil supplements may increase your risk of developing prostate cancer.
Omega-3 fatty acids, one of the main components of fish oil supplements, have many health benefits because of their anti-inflammatory properties. But consuming too much may not be good for your prostate health.
You don’t have to avoid fish and fish oil supplements altogether. But you may want to try consuming only a moderate amount.
Some studies¹⁰ have associated dairy products with an increased risk of developing prostate cancer. However, cutting out calcium from your diet completely could lead to weak bones and other health issues.
Folate and other nutritional supplements
Research¹¹ has found that men who have enough folate in their diet have a lower risk of developing prostate cancer. However, increasing folate levels using supplements can actually increase the risk of cancer¹².
If you need to increase folate in your blood, consider getting it from green vegetables, whole grains, beans, and fortified breakfast cereals. Most importantly, speak with your doctor before making any major changes.
In addition, nutritional supplements such as Vitamin C and E have not been shown to prevent prostate cancer.
Cooked tomatoes can reduce the risk of prostate cancer | World Cancer Research Fund International
Can Prostate Cancer Be Prevented? | Cancer.org
Smoking may increase risk of prostate cancer recurrence, death | Harvard School of Public Health
Prostate cancer prevention (PDQ®): Prevention - patient information | University of Michigan Health