How to Reduce Your Risk of Prostate Cancer
Assessing your already existing risk level for prostate cancer can help inform your preventive health journey, which is vital because prostate cancer is one of the leading cancers among men in the United States. While it affects all men, statistics show some demographics are more vulnerable than others.
These are some of the groups most at risk of the disease:
- Older men. The potential for prostate cancer increases as men get older, meaning that preventive screenings become more critical as you age.
- Men with a family history of cancer. If the men in your family have a history of prostate cancer, your risk may increase. Additionally, a family history of breast cancer may mean you are more at risk for prostate cancer.
- Men with overall health issues. Obese men diagnosed with prostate cancer are typically more likely to have other advanced diseases that make it more challenging to manage prostate cancer.
- African American men. Though the reasons are still unknown, African American men, including Caribbean men of African descent, are the most likely racial or ethnic group to get prostate cancer. Most of these cases occur in individuals who are 65 and older, and cases are rare among men who are younger than 40 years old, according to the American Cancer Society. The reasons are likely connected to factors such as family history, dietary habits and other health issues.
How to lower the risk
To potentially lower the risk of getting prostate cancer, you can take a number of steps.
Ask your doctor about preventive screenings. Be sure to keep up with your regular general health checkups, and share your family history of cancer with your doctor. This information will help your doctor determine when you should start getting preventive screenings for prostate cancer. According to the American Cancer Society, men at average risk of prostate cancer who are in overall good health should start getting screened at age 50. However, screenings should start at age 45 for men at high risk of the disease, including African Americans. Men at highest risk for prostate cancer should start regular screenings at age 40.
Balance your diet. Avoid high-fat foods and instead focus on eating an assortment of fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Not only could a balanced diet reduce the risk of prostate cancer altogether, but experts believe it can reduce the risk of prostate cancer progression as well. Whether you can fully prevent prostate cancer through diet alone has not been conclusively proved, but maintaining a healthy diet is likely to lower your risk and improve your overall health.
Exercise regularly. Exercise improves your overall health, helps maintain your weight and can improve your mood. Many medical experts believe that men who keep up an exercise routine may have a lower risk of prostate cancer.
Quit smoking. According to the Prostate Cancer Foundation, smokers are more likely to die of prostate cancer than of lung cancer. It’s true. Smoking has also been linked to increased rates of prostate cancer recurrence and the occurrence of more aggressive forms of the disease.
Take the first step
You should start talking with your primary care physician about scheduling a screening for prostate cancer around the age of 40. You may be told to come back in 10 years, but you will have started a very important conversation.