One in six American men will have prostate cancer in their lives, according to the Prostate Cancer Foundation. Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men. But if caught early, it is one of the most treatable — and survivable — cancers. And studies show it might be preventable, too. Here are five ways to lower the risk.
When it comes to the prostate, tomatoes are a super-food. In a study, researchers found that men who ate at least two servings of tomato sauce in a week were 28% less likely to develop prostate cancer. Tomatoes contain the antioxidant lycopene, which has been shown to inhibit the growth of cancer cells. Cooked tomatoes (like those in tomato sauce or paste) and juice have the highest levels of lycopene.
Book a tea time
Next time you reach for a cup of joe, consider green or white tea instead. Green and white teas also contain antioxidants that are thought to inhibit growth in existing tumors. Additionally, these antioxidants help prevent the kind of cell damage that can lead to initial tumor growth. An added bonus: White tea has been shown to also prevent polyp growth that can lead to colon cancer.
A diet rich in fruits and veggies boosts health in a variety of ways, but loading up on cruciferous vegetables — such as broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, kale, Brussels sprouts, and bok choy — may provide extra protection for the prostate. Men who ate three or more servings of cruciferous vegetables per week had a decreased risk of prostate cancer compared with men who ate less than one serving per week. And the boost in fiber helps, too. A high-fiber diet helps reduce hormone levels that may promote prostate cancer progression and also guards against the development of colon cancer.
Dial back dairy
While vitamin D and calcium have an important role to play in men’s health, getting them from dairy may not be the best option. The medical community agrees that men who consume large amounts of milk or other dairy products have an increased risk of developing prostate cancer. Researchers suspect that the high calcium and animal fat content in milk and dairy products are to blame. Reducing dairy, red meat and animal fat intake may reduce risk.
Plan a PSA test
Like the recent fervor over mammograms, the PSA test has its share of controversy. This blood test looks for prostate-specific antigens (PSA), proteins associated with a growing prostate gland. But elevated PSA levels can be caused by other conditions that are virtually harmless. The risk of false-positives and unnecessary surgery leads some doctors to oppose doing the test unless they detect a lump during an exam. However, while 98% of prostate cancers are slow-growing and highly treatable, 2% are extremely aggressive and prone to rapidly metastasize. Currently, there’s no test to tell the slow-growing form of cancer from the aggressive form short of doing an invasive biopsy or surgery. Because prostate cancer is relatively common among men and highly treatable when caught early, most doctors opt to do the PSA test, particularly on patients age 50–70.
For more information about prostate cancer screening and prevention:
O.S. Hawkins, president of GuideStone, was diagnosed with prostate cancer. Read his story.
GuideStone Financial Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention welcomes the opportunity to share this general information. However, this article is not intended to be relied upon as medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.