Prostate Cancer Awareness Month: How to Reduce Your Risk
One of the biggest health risks that men face is prostate cancer. It is one of the most common cancers that occur in men. According to the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), it’s estimated that nearly 192,000 men in the United States will be diagnosed with prostate cancer this year. It’s also the second leading cause of death in men in the country. Thankfully, if detected in the early stages, it can be treated and successfully cured in many cases.
That’s why Prostate Cancer Awareness Month, which takes place every year during September, is so important. Men, especially if they are over the age of 45-50, need to be aware of the risk they face as well as the measures they can take to reduce their risk of developing prostate cancer or improve their chances of beating it.
Reducing Your Risk for Developing Prostate Cancer
Currently, there is no foolproof way to prevent prostate cancer. Part of the issue is that researchers do not fully understand the exact cause. Generally speaking, prostate cancer occurs when DNA in a normal prostate cell becomes malformed. These abnormal changes cause the cells to grow and divide at a rapid pace. As they proliferate, the normal cells die out and the abnormal cells accumulate into a tumor.
While the trigger of this abnormal genetic change is unknown, researchers have identified some common risk factors that increase someone’s potential for developing the disease. These factors include:
- Having a family history of prostate cancer
For men to whom any of these risk factors apply, they should be aware that their chances of developing prostate cancer are higher than average and they should take appropriate preventive measures as much as possible. The American Cancer Society recommends several measures that men can take to reduce their risk for prostate cancer, including:
- Achieving and/or maintaining a healthy weight
- Eating a healthy diet that includes a variety of vegetables, fruits, and whole grains while also limiting highly processed foods and sugary beverages
- Exercising regularly
- Taking supplements such as vitamin E and selenium, which have been shown to possibly lower the risk for prostate cancer
- Talking to your doctor about certain medications, such as 5-alpha reductase inhibitors
The Importance of Early Detection
Because you can’t fully prevent developing prostate cancer, being vigilant about getting tested is absolutely critical, especially if you have one or more risk factors. The American Cancer Society recommends getting screened once every 1-2 years, depending on your specific situation. And because age is one of the main risk factors to be aware of, you should talk to your doctor about scheduling a screening if you’re 55 or older, or 45 and have other risk factors.