Prostate cancer affects mainly older men. Four out of five cases are diagnosed in men over 65, but less than 1% in men under 50. Though rare, prostate cancer can be seen in men even in their 30's and 40's. Men with a family history of prostate cancer are more likely to die of it than is the general population. On a case-by-case basis, doctors cannot say with certainty what causes prostate cancer, but experts generally agree that diet contributes to the risk. Men who consume large amounts of fat -- particularly from red meat and other sources of animal fat -- are most likely to develop advanced prostate cancer. The disease is much more common in countries where meat and dairy products are dietary staples than in countries where the basic diet consists of rice, soybean products, and vegetables.
The underlying factor linking diet and prostate cancer is probably hormonal. Fats stimulate increased production of testosterone and other hormones, and testosterone acts to speed the growth of prostate cancer. High testosterone levels may stimulate dormant prostate cancer cells into activity. Some findings suggest that high testosterone levels also influence the initial onset of prostate cancer. Eating meat may be risky for other reasons: Meat cooked at high temperatures produces cancer-causing substances that directly affect the prostate. A few other risk factors have been noted. Welders, battery manufacturers, rubber workers, and workers frequently exposed to the metal cadmium seem to be abnormally vulnerable to prostate cancer.
Other risk factors include low physical activity and smoking.
Researchers know more about what will not cause prostate cancer than what will. No proven link exists between prostate cancer and an active sex life, vasectomy, masturbation, use of alcohol or tobacco, circumcision, infertility, infection of the prostate, or a common noncancerous condition called benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) that causes an enlarged prostate gland. Most elderly men experience an enlarged prostate to some degree. Drugs that may reduce the risk of prostate cancer include the use of aspirin, finasteride, statins, and other cholesterol and triglyceride lowering anti-inflammatory drugs. Adding certain foods in your diet may also help reduce the risk including tomato sauce, broccoli, cauliflower, cole slaw, and sauerkraut.
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Archived: March 20, 2014
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