September is Prostate Cancer Awareness Month, which means if you haven’t already brushed up on all of the ways you can reduce your risk, right now is the perfect time to take a crash course.
But before you practice preventative measures, it’s first important to understand your risk.
According to the Prostate Cancer Foundation (PCF), a man’s risk for developing prostate cancer increases if:
• He is older than 40 — Diagnosis rates increase to 1 in 38 for men age 40 to 59 and to 1 in 14 for men 60 to 69.
• He is African American — Compared to Caucasian men, African American men are 2.5 times as likely to die from the disease.
• He has a family history of the disease —Men with a father or brother diagnosed with prostate cancer are twice as likely to be diagnosed as well. “This risk is further increased if the cancer was diagnosed in family members at a younger age (less than 55 years of age) or if it affected three or more family members,” the PCF reports.
• He lives in the U.S., especially north of 40 degrees latitude (Philadelphia, Pa.; Columbus, Ohio; Provo, Utah) — U.S. men have a 17 percent risk of developing prostate cancer compared to a 2 percent risk for men who live in China.
All of the above are factors that are difficult or impossible to change. However, while scientists are still learning more about the disease, why it develops and possible prevention methods, it is widely agreed that you may be able to reduce your risk by implementing the following healthy habits.
1. Keep Your Weight in Check
“Men who are obese — a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or higher — may have an increased risk of prostate cancer,” Mayo Clinic reports. Both Mayo Clinic and the PCF recommend maintaining a healthy weight as a means of prostate cancer prevention.
2. Follow a Healthy Diet
Scientists haven’t found concrete proof to support this recommendation, however there is some evidence that shows following a healthy diet may be associated with a lower risk for developing the disease. Not to mention, eating well supports good general health and helps to protect against many other chronic diseases.
The PCF especially recommends keeping your red meat and dairy intake to a minimum and also suggests eating more fish (some evidence shows the “healthy fats” in fish may protect against prostate cancer). Additionally, Mayo Clinic points to studies that found protective benefits from reducing fat intake and obtaining fats from plants rather than animals and eating more fruits and vegetables.
Not only will exercise help you maintain a healthy weight, but most studies examining its relation to prostate cancer found that men who exercise may have a reduced risk for developing the disease.
Plus, as Mayo Clinic points out, “Exercise has many other health benefits and may reduce your risk of heart disease and other cancers.”
4. Don’t Smoke
According to the American Cancer Society, most studies actually haven’t found a link between smoking and prostate cancer risk. However, some studies have indicated that it could increase your chances of dying from the disease, as it has been found to make the condition worse.
5. See Your Doctor
The PCF recommends that men over 40, African American men and men with a family history of the disease consider a yearly rectal examination and PSA test.
“Discuss the risks and benefits of these screening procedures with your doctor,” the organization notes.
Additionally, Mayo Clinic notes, men with a very high risk of prostate cancer should also discuss other preventative options, such as medications, with their doctor.