Prevent Prostate

Know the Causes.
Understand Your Risks.

As you approach middle age, it’s important to take a proactive role in discussing the health of your prostate. Prostate cancer is the second most common cancer in American men after skin cancer. Most recent studies report around 1 in 9 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer sometime during their lifetime. That being said, prostate cancer is typically a slow-growing cancer and highly curable, especially when caught early.

How Does Prostate Cancer Develop?

One of the most influential factors of prostate cancer can be traced to mutations in your genes. Genetic mutations can be inherited or acquired later in life due to changes in your genetic material. Inherited causes of prostate cancer are often linked to quirks in your DNA’s genetic code. While acquired causes are a result of genetic mutations, such as oncogenes transforming a normal prostate cell into a tumor cell and/or tumor suppressor genes turning off during the cell replication process.

Inherited Prostate Cancer Causes (5-10% of cases)

Found in all cells of the body

RNASEL (formerly HPC1): Cause abnormal cells to live longer than they should.

BRCA1 and BRCA2: Results from errors in repairing cell DNA mistakes and in cell loss if mistakes can’t be fixed. Often linked with certain cancers that run in the family.

MSH2 and MLH1: Fails to fix mismatches in the DNA before a cell prepares to divide.

Lynch syndrome: Appears in those with a hereditary non-polyposis colorectal cancer (HNPCC) gene and increases their risk of colorectal, prostate and some other cancers.

HOXB13: Leads to early-onset prostate cancer caused by mutations occurring in the development of the prostate gland. Cases are rare.

Acquired Prostate Cancer Causes (90-95% of cases)

Found only in cells originating from the original mutated cell

It’s still relatively unknown what circumstances cause something to go wrong during the gene copying process. However, body chemistry and hormones are among the factors connected to prostate cancer. In particular, higher levels of testosterone and other male hormones that promote cell growth have been linked to prostate cancer. The quicker prostate cells grow and divide, the more chances there are for mutations to occur.

Who Is Most at Risk for Prostate Cancer?

Research studies have found some correlation between certain characteristics and cases diagnosed but not enough to guarantee a prognosis. Many people with multiple risk factors never get prostate cancer. Likewise, those with no known risk factors can end up developing cancer. Your best approach is to stay on top of your health, establish a prostate care plan with your doctor and stay aware of changes in your health that could be a cause of prostate cancer.

Common Prostate Cancer Risk Factors

Age: Rare in those under 40. Risk rises rapidly after the age of 50, affecting 6 in 10 men 65 and older.

Race/Ethnicity: African Americans and Caribbean men of African ancestry are the most at risk. It’s less common in Asian Americans and Hispanics/Latinos than in non-Hispanic whites.

Geography: Residents living in northern latitudes and in North America, northwestern Europe, Australia and on the Caribbean islands are more at risk. It’s less common in Asia, Africa, Central America and South America.

Family History: Those with inherited genetic factors (listed above) should be extra mindful. A father with a history of prostate cancer more than doubles your risk. A brother is even higher.

Acquired Gene Changes: Attributed to circumstances that cause something to go wrong during the gene copying process.

Other: Less clear factors are diet, lack of exercise, smoking, obesity, chemical and sun exposure, radiation, inflammation and STDs.

Prostate Cancer Prevention Tips

There is no proven strategy for preventing prostate cancer, but a healthy lifestyle and preventive health measures may help reduce your risk and improve your immunity.

1. Stay in shape

2. Get enough rest

3. Incorporate prostate cancer prevention foods into your diet, including:

  • Fatty fish: Specifically salmon, which is high in omega-3s.
  • Berries: High levels of antioxidants prevent cellular damage from free radicals.
  • Cooked tomatoes: Contain lycopene, which can stop cancer from attaching to a healthy blood supply.
  • Broccoli: Cruciferous vegetables are rich in antioxidants and phytochemicals that may kill cancer cells and prevent cell changes that lead to it.
  • Green tea: Full of many health-boosting, antioxidant properties.

Other Foods: Brazil nuts, walnuts, coffee, carrots, pomegranate juice and beans are among some of the other foods recommended to prevent prostate cancer.

Foods to Avoid or Limit: Red meats, high-fat dairy, lots of calcium.

4. Avoid harmful exposure to chemicals, toxins, the sun and other radiation

5. See a doctor if you start experiencing symptoms of prostate cancer

  • Difficulty urinating, weak or interrupted urinary stream dribbling or bloody urine
  • Bloody semen
  • Erectile problems, such as erectile dysfunction or painful ejaculation
  • Swelling in pelvic area or legs
  • Pressure or pain in the rectum
  • Weakness and/or numbness in feet or legs
  • Loss of bladder and/or bowel control
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Fatigue

Learn More About Prostate Cancer Symptoms

6. Schedule regular appointments and discuss your prostate plan with your doctor

Standard Age to Start Prostate Exams & Screenings

40 Highest risk.

Those with a family history or inherited genetic mutation linked to prostate cancer. More specifically, if you have more than one first-degree relative (father, brother or son) who was diagnosed at an early age (younger than 65).

45 High risk.

Those with African American ancestry or have a first-degree relative diagnosed with prostate cancer at an early age (younger than 65).

50 Average risk.

If you have no family history and are not African American.

Over 50 Discuss with your doctor.

Recommendations may vary based on your age, health, other health issues and personal preferences.

Based on your risk factors, your doctor might suggest one or two of the preliminary prostate cancer screening tests.

Digital Rectal Exam (DRE) Test

During this exam, your doctor will ask you to bend over or lie on the exam table in a fetal position. He or she will insert a gloved, lubricated finger into your rectum to check for abnormalities and feel for any bumps, hard or soft spots or if your prostate is enlarged. If any of these things are felt, further testing will more than likely be recommended.

Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) Blood Test

PSA is a protein produced by the prostate and, while not mutually exclusive, PSA levels tend to rise when there’s something wrong with the prostate. If your levels are elevated, most doctors recommend taking more tests to rule out any health issues, such as prostate cancer.

Learn More About Prostate Cancer Screening