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Family history plays a significant role in determining whether you are likely to develop prostate cancer or not.
57% of all prostate cancer patients¹ develop it due to genetic factors. If your parents, or their parents, have a history of prostate cancer, you're more likely to have it.
The food you eat has a significant role in the overall health of your prostate.
Dietary choices have been shown to affect the development and progression of several cancers, including those of the colon, breast, prostate, and kidney.
Though more research is needed, there is an association between diets rich in high-fat dairy products and red meat with prostate cancer².
On the other hand, studies have linked diets rich in fruits and vegetables with a reduced risk for cancer³ and other diseases like heart disease. This is because fruits contain high amounts of Vitamin A and C, while vegetables contain the mineral selenium, which may fight cell multiplication.
Interestingly, there is significantly lower fruit consumption among men who consume diets rich in red meat and high-fat dairy products. As a result, it's challenging to determine which of the two plays a greater role.
Over half of all cases of prostate cancer occur in men over 65 years old⁴. The older a man gets, the higher his risk is of getting prostate cancer. This is because as men age, their prostate grows, which may lead to cancerous cells developing.
Age also affects the type of cancer that is present in your prostate. As a man gets older, the odds drop for developing more aggressive tumors.
Instead, most men develop slow-growing prostate cancers, which are easier to treat and have fewer symptoms.
Studies reveal that African American men are more likely to develop prostate cancer⁵ than white men. The disease is also more aggressive in cases of Black men, with nearly twice as many deaths reported.
Studies have also shown that men in Asian countries like Japan, China, and India have a lower chance⁶ of developing prostate cancer despite having higher rates of chronic diseases such as diabetes.
The variation in risks may be due to differences in the diet, where diets rich in fat are associated with a higher risk for prostate cancer in Western countries.
Men living in Western countries have a higher chance⁷ of developing prostate cancer than those in other parts of the world.
Reasons for this include differences in diet and behaviors, among others, but one important role seems to be played by sunlight exposure.
Men who live in Northern areas of the world may lack adequate sunlight exposure. The sun is an excellent source of vitamin D, which can bind with cells freely and modify genes. In so doing, vitamin D can help counteract the destructive genetic alterations caused by prostate cancer cells.
There is no definitive link between smoking and prostate cancer⁸.
However, it should be noted that prostate cancers in smokers tend to grow at a slower rate than those in nonsmokers, which means you may have more time to detect and treat this cancer condition. This is known as the "Healthy Smoker Effect."
Obesity has been linked to an increased risk for prostate cancer.
A study⁹ carried out by researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health revealed that men who are obese have twice the risk of developing fatal prostate cancer compared with those who are not.
This is because obesity raises insulin levels which in turn increases the risk of developing prostate cancer.
Obesity also raises the levels of androgens, such as testosterone. This hormone stimulates cell division which in turn increases the chance of tumor growth during prostate cancer development.
Taking the following actions can help prevent prostate cancer:
Eat more fruits and vegetables
Drink less alcohol
Exercise regularly (at least three times a week)
Maintain your weight at a healthy level
Be aware of your family history and get regular checkups
Prostate Cancer FAQs | Prostate Cancer Foundation
The Nutrition Source: Vegetables and Fruits | Harvard School of Public Health
Prostate Cancer Statistics | Cancer.Net
4 Things Black Men Should Know about Prostate Cancer | Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center
Prostate Cancer Risk Factors | Johns Hopkins Medicine
Genetic mutation may play key role in risk of lethal prostate cancer in overweight patients | Harvard School of Public Health