Prostate cancer affects one in eight men every year and is responsible for 40,000 deaths annually.
Although it can be hard to detect, the good news is that a few healthy habits can help reduce your risk. Here are seven things you can do to reduce your risk of prostate cancer, according to a urologist.
There are some factors that are out of your control.
The risk factors found in many prostate cancer patients are beyond their control, says David Ahlborn, MD, a Hartford HealthCare Tallwood Urology & Kidney Institute urologist.
“There’s nothing men can do about their genetics or race, and each play a huge role in determining if they will get prostate cancer,” he notes.
Black men, he adds, are 1.7 times more likely to get prostate cancer – and 2.1 times more likely to die from it – than white men.
These 7 habits can reduce your risk.
But if you’re hoping to take a few steps to reduce your risk, Dr. Ahlborn recommends these tips:
- Maintain a healthy weight. Obesity, Dr. Ahlborn says, is one link researchers have identified and connected with more aggressive forms of the disease.
- Follow a low-fat diet. Meals rich in fruits and vegetables and low in trans and saturated fats is best. Studies connect high-fat diets with increased prostate cancer risk. Also, foods high in lycopene – tomatoes, watermelons – and isoflavones – tofu, peanuts, lentils, chickpeas – help lower risk.
- Limit dairy. Milk, cheese and yogurt increase a man’s risk of prostate cancer, and increasing risk of breast and ovarian cancers. Whole milk increases risk 1.5 times compared to 2% or skim milk due to naturally occurring hormones and compounds in them, Dr. Ahlborn explains.
- Carefully take supplements. Check with your primary care provider before adding any to your routine. There are increased prostate cancer risks associated with Vitamin E, folic acid and calcium, he notes.
- Exercise regularly. That means 30 minutes of activity or more most days. If you’ve been inactive, talk with your primary care provider first. Ease into it swimming, walking or bicycling.
- Quit smoking. Statistics highlight a much higher risk of prostate cancer for smokers.
- Stay sexually active. Studies as early as 2004 connect ejaculation – through sex or masturbation – with lower risk of prostate cancer. Fluid released during ejaculation essentially flushes toxins from the prostate gland and sex helps improve blood flow to the prostate, Dr. Ahlborn says.
Early detection could save your life.
If you’re at risk of prostate cancer because of genetics, there is hope. Prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood tests have revolutionized diagnosis and treatment, Dr. Ahlborn says.
Most men should be tested after age 55, and after 40 if you have a family history of prostate caancer.
“This is a slow-growing cancer with few noticeable symptoms. PSA testing has been key to finding it early when it’s more treatable.”