Prostate cancer is one of the most common types of cancer found in middle-aged men. According to the National Cancer Institute, one in seven middle-aged men suffers from prostate cancer in the U.S.
For those who are less familiar with the disease, prostate cancer is a form of cancer that can develop in a man’s prostate gland, a walnut-sized gland that produces most of the fluid in semen and transports sperm. Statistically speaking, men over 65 are most likely to be diagnosed with this form of cancer. Only one percent of men under 50 are diagnosed with prostate cancer.
The good news is that prostate cancer is generally a slow-growing cancer without an extensive list of symptoms. When men are diagnosed in the early stages, they often survive this disease. In fact, there are more than 2.5 million prostate cancer survivors living in the U.S. Below are some basic facts about prostate cancer, as well as a number of lifestyle changes men can implement to reduce their risk of prostate cancer.
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The Risk of Prostate Cancer
There are particular factors that make men susceptible to this form of cancer. Consider yourself at higher risk if:
- You are over 50.
- You’re an African American man. African American men are at a higher risk of developing prostate cancer than men from other backgrounds, and chances are higher of developing the disease earlier than your 50s.
- You have a family history that involves prostate cancer.
- You were exposed to certain chemicals like herbicides and Agent Orange.
How can you minimize your risk of prostate cancer? Are there any precautionary measures you can take?
As far as prostate cancer risk factors like genetics and age, they cannot be avoided. However, several lifestyle changes may help lower the risk of developing prostate cancer. They include:
- Avoiding excessive consumption of vitamins and supplements, especially folate (folic acid) and calcium.
- Avoiding fats that you consume from dairy products and red meat. These types of foods increase testosterone levels, which is known to speed up the progression of prostate cancer.
- Quitting smoking and avoiding alcohol consumption.
- Regularly consuming foods that comprise a healthy and balanced diet and making exercise a part of your daily schedule.
- Eating vegetables and fruits that contain antioxidants, like berries, beans, tomatoes and spinach.
- Refraining from eating processed meats such as bologna and hot dogs.
- Eating more garlic. One study found that eating allium vegetables like garlic and onions reduces the chances of developing prostate cancer by 50%.
Aside from these precautionary measures and changes in your lifestyle, it’s important for men in their 50s to have prostate cancer screenings. A prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test can diagnose prostate cancer at its onset which makes the treatment all the more effective. Rectal exams to check the size of the prostate and to feel for any lumps is important as well, and should be done with every yearly physical examination.