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Prostate Cancer

by Teresa Valdez on September 4, 2013

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Did you know that 1 in 6 American men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in his lifetime?  Autopsy studies have suggested that at least half of all men over the age of 50 have prostate cancer.  Three out of four men ages 85 and older have the disease.  In spite of these statistics, however, only 3 out of every 100 men will die of prostate cancer.  Why is that?  The majority of of prostate cancers are what’s called “indolent” meaning they are very small and grow at a very slow rate so they are unlikely to cause harm.  So what is a man to do to help prevent these fatal cancers from appearing in the first place and/or help decrease the likelihood of dying from them?

According to Meir Stampfer, professor of epidemiology and nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health the following factors play a major role:

OVERWEIGHT & SMOKING

Being overweight has a higher risk of lethal prostate cancer.  The risk is even higher if obese.  “Overweight and obesity aren’t related to the risk of getting prostate cancer,” explains Stempfer.  “But they’re strongly related to the risk of dying of prostate cancer”.  The same holds true for cigarette smoking.

EXERCISE

“Exercise is emerging as a pretty strong protective factor for both the incidence of bad disease and for decreasing the progression of disease,” says Stampfer.  Participating in vigorous exercise such as jogging, tennis, biking & squash for at least 3 hours a week, earlier studies show, lowers the risk of being  diagnosed with metastatic prostate cancer.

DIET

1.  Calcium:  although necessary for strong bones, too much Calcium may mean  trouble for the prostate.  According the to Health Professionals Follow-Up Study those who took more than 400mg a day of calcium from a supplement had a 50% higher risk of dying of prostate cancer compared to those who took no calcium.  However, another study that looked at fatal prostate cancer didn’t show a direct link.  “And in small randomized trials giving people calcium to reduce the risk of precancerous colon polyps, they actually found a decreased risk of prostate cancer”, says Stampfer.  “So the calcium studies are difficult because of this potential dual effect”.

2.  Dairy:  According to June Chan, professor of epidemiology & biostatistics and urology at the University of California, San Francisco…”Men who drank whole milk more than four times a week had about twice the risk of lethal prostate cancer compared to men who rarely or never drank whole milk.  But there was a suggestion of a reduced risk for low-fat dairy intake.”

3.  Eggs:  Findings in the CaPSURE study (Cancer of the Prostate Strategic Urologic Research Endeavor-a study that follows men who have been diagnosed with and treated for prostate cancer to see whose cancer is more likely to “progress”) show that men who ate the most eggs (about 6/week) were twice as likely to have their prostate cancer progress than men who ate less eggs (<1/2 egg per week).

4.  Coffee:  “There are now a few studies suggesting a protective association for coffee,” says Stampfer.  The benefit stems from the coffee itself and not caffeine.

5.  Cruciferous vegetables:  vegetables such as broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, kale, mustard greens and swiss chard contain isothiocyanates which are powerful anti-cancer substances.

6.  Fish & Fish Oil:  In a meta-analysis of four studies, people who ate the most fish had a 63% lower risk of dying of prostate cancer than people who ate the least.

So, what’s a man to do?  Lifestyle modifications are essential for optimum health.

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  • Javier Luna

    Great article for us men, especially in my family where my dad’s side (his borthers) and him have all had prostate cancer, though later in their 70’s and 80’s. It’s so important for the men in our family to take precautions and get healthy

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