How to Lower Your Prostate Cancer Risk

by | May 8, 2024 | Health

About 300,000 new cases of prostate cancer will be diagnosed this year, according to the American Cancer Society. It’s the second-most common cause of cancer deaths among men. So it’s crucial to know your risk.

Age is the biggest risk factor for prostate cancer, with about six in 10 cases occurring in men over 65. Black men are more likely to get prostate cancer and die from the disease. And, a family history of prostate cancer increases your risk, as do inherited gene mutations, such as the BRCA gene, which is also linked to breast cancer.

Because most of the major risk factors are beyond your control, there’s no proven way to truly reduce your risk for prostate cancer (or really any other type of cancer), says Paul Gittens, M.D., a board-certified urologist and founder of Rockwell Centers for Sexual Medicine and Wellness in Pennsylvania and New York City.

READ MORE: Here’s Everything You Need To Know About Prostate Cancer

“But we do know that there are a number of things that reduce your risk of all cancers, and prostate cancer is in that category,” he says. “Essentially, studies are saying the healthier your lifestyle is, the less likely you may be to have cancer in general.”

So taking steps to address things that are in your control, like diet and exercise, can benefit your overall health and potentially lower your risk for prostate cancer, too, says Felix Feng, M.D., a radiation oncologist at the University of California San Francisco and co-founder of ArteraAI.

Still, he says, “Some patients may follow all the guidelines for reducing risk and still develop cancer, while others who make suboptimal lifestyle choices remain cancer-free.”

When caught early, you can start treatment for prostate cancer early and increase your risk of survival, Dr. Feng says. Here are some things you can do to potentially lower your risk for prostate cancer:

Manage Your Weight

Excess weight leads to more inflammation in the body, and inflammation is a driver for cancer, Dr. Gittens says. Having extra body fat may also increase cell and blood vessel growth, impact levels of hormones like insulin and estrogen, which can drive cell growth, and enable cancer cells to grow, according to the American Cancer Society.

2022 review of studies showed that obesity was linked to a higher risk of death from prostate cancer. Taking steps to maintain a healthy weight could reduce your risk for cancer, as well as cardiovascular disease and many other conditions.

Exercise Frequently

Research shows that staying active might prevent prostate cancer. David Wise, M.D., an oncologist at NYU Langone Health, suggests that exercise and maintaining a healthy weight are the two best ways to reduce your prostate cancer risk.

Mastering Longevity, According to a Medical Doctor

A recent study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine found that men lowered their risk for prostate cancer when they increased their cardiorespiratory fitness, which is the capacity of the circulatory and respiratory systems to supply oxygen to muscles.

Regular exercise, in itself, can lower your risk for prostate cancer and also help you maintain a healthy weight, which may also improve your risk levels, Dr. Feng says.

How much should you work out? “About two and a half hours of moderate exercise or about an hour and fifteen minutes a week of very intense exercise would be the minimum,” Wise recommends.

Quit Smoking

“Smoking is not just linked to lung cancer. It’s also linked to prostate cancer,” Dr. Wise says. A review of studies published in 2023 suggested that smoking was associated with an increased risk of prostate cancer, and smokers had a 42 percent higher risk of death from the cancer compared to non-smokers. So do yourself a favour and quit today.

READ MORE: 10 Super Effective Strategies to Quit Smoking for Good

Opt for the Right Fats

Some studies have suggested that saturated fats and animal fats are associated with an increased prostate cancer risk. However, that doesn’t mean consuming fat causes prostate cancer. But sources including the Mayo Clinic suggest choosing lean meat and dairy and switching to plant-based fats, like olive oil.

Cut Back on Meat and Dairy

People who consume more meat and dairy, which can be high in animal fats, may increase their cancer risk, Dr. Wise says. While studies on the subject are small, he advises patients to err on the side of caution and get most of their fat from avocados and nuts over animal products.

It’s also been shown that grilled or charred meats can produce carcinogenic chemicals, including heterocyclic amines (HCAs) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), which can damage DNA and potentially lead to tumor growth from long-term exposure.

Eat More Fruits And Vegetables

In terms of cancer-fighting foods, Wise says, “cruciferous vegetables really seem to keep popping out” as the most effective. This includes broccoli and cauliflower, which contain a natural chemical that may prevent cancer from growing.

veggies to assist with bloating
Image: Getty

Generally eating more fruits and vegetables, which are full of vitamins and nutrients, could reduce instances of prostate cancer, but research on the subject is limited. However, incorporating more plants into your diet promotes overall healthy eating, and that’s great for your health.

READ MORE: The 9 Foods That Will Help Boost Your Energy

Add Legumes to Your Diet

Isoflavones, a type of plant compound, have been linked to a lower risk for prostate cancer, according to a small review of studies. Isoflavones are found in soy products like tofu, chickpeas, lentils, and peanuts. Increasing your intake of these legumes also adds more fibre and other nutrients to your diet, which benefits other aspects of your health.

Avoid Vitamin E Supplements

We typically think of vitamins as good things, but a study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute found that taking too much vitamin E may increase the risk of aggressive prostate cancer. As long as you’re getting 15 mg of vitamin E a day from your diet, according to the National Institutes of Health, you don’t need to take any additional supplements. Supplementing “beyond what we would have in our normal diet would be a bad idea,” says Wise.

Drink More Coffee

coffee making

Fueling up on coffee might keep you alert throughout the day and maybe up through the night, but it’s also been shown to help take down your prostate cancer risk. A 2021 BMJ Open meta-analysis suggested that drinking several cups of coffee a day was linked to a lower risk of developing prostate cancer. The study found that each additional cup of coffee a day reduced relative risk by 1 percent.

READ MORE: Sip Easy: 6 Science-Backed Benefits of Drinking Coffee in the Morning

Let it Out

Sexual activity, specifically ejaculating, has been connected with a lower risk of prostate cancer, Dr. Gittens says. A 2016 study suggested that men who ejaculated 21 or more times a month had about a 20 percent lower prostate cancer risk compared to those who ejaculated four to seven times a month.

Have Safe Sex

Speaking of sex, using protection may lower your chances of developing prostate cancer. Sexually transmitted infections like cytomegalovirus and trichomoniasis have been linked to prostate cancer. Cytomegalovirus is a type of herpes found in cancerous prostate tissue. Trichomoniasis, on the other hand, is a treatable virus that may have long-term effects. A study published in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention found that guys who were ever infected with trichomoniasis had a 40 percent greater chance of developing prostate cancer.

From: Men’s Health US

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