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Prostate Cancer: Causes and Links

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Prostate cancer is the second most common type of cancer among men in the U.S.* One in every six men will get prostate cancer sometime in his life. But why one man gets prostate cancer while another five don’t remains a mystery.

Doctors do know, however, that certain risk factors can influence the possibility of developing prostate cancer and have identified several links that may lead to its development.

Here are the most common links for developing prostate cancer. Some of these links can be changed, some cannot, while others are still being studied. Keep in mind that simply having a link or risk factor won’t automatically cause prostate cancer. It merely increases the possibility. Most men who have a risk factor will never develop the disease. Checking with your doctor is a good place to start when it comes to prevention and detection.

Links You Cannot Change:

The age link. Age is the main risk factor for prostate cancer—the older you get, the greater your chances of getting it. The disease is rare in men under 45 but most common in men over 65.

The family link. If your father, brother or son had prostate cancer, your risk of developing prostate cancer increases.

The ethnic link. Prostate cancer is more common among black men than white or Hispanic/Latino men, but even less common among Asian/Pacific Islander and American Indian/Alaska Native men.

Links You Can Change:

The weight link. Preventing weight gain can reduce the risk of many cancers and that includes prostate cancer. Obesity is a predictor of prostate cancer progression and severity, making it more difficult to treat. Stay up to date on nutrition and exercise to manage your weight and improve your overall health.

The cholesterol link. Research shows high cholesterol levels are associated with advanced prostate cancer, and men with lower cholesterol levels are less likely to develop prostate cancer than those with higher levels. Omega-3 fatty acids, found in fatty fish like salmon, increase your “good” cholesterol, and may actually help prevent cancer.

The diet link. The “western” diet—high in the type of fat found in meat and dairy products—is also strongly associated with cancer rates. Eating red meat five times a week doubles your risk of prostate cancer. Fill your plate with more colorful fruits and cruciferous veggies (broccoli, cabbage) daily.

The smoking link. Smoking is a key factor in how aggressive prostate cancer will be. A government-funded study has shown that men with prostate cancer who are cigarette smokers are much more likely to die of the disease or experience a recurrence than nonsmoking men.** Yet another good reason to quit.

Counteract Risky Links with Prevention LinksThe first link in the chain of prostate cancer prevention is screening for the disease. Every man over 50 should be screened annually. Catching cancer early increases the odds of survival.

The second, equally vital link is maintaining a lifestyle that promotes better prostate health and better health in general.

Why not make the link between awareness and prevention today by reducing or eliminating the risk factors that are within your power! Be sure to check with your doctor about what you can do to help prevent and detect prostate cancer.

*National Institutes of Health.
**Journal of the American Medical Association.

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