How can I lower my risk of prostate cancer?

A heart-healthy diet may help lower your risk of prostate cancer.
There are some studies that suggest the absence of sexual activity may be associated with prostate cancer. The dietary recommendations to decrease the likelihood of prostate cancer are a decreased consumption of red meat, decreased calories, more whole fruits and vegetables, and increased soybean intake.
We know that a man's risk of prostate cancer is determined, in part, by things he can't change: age, race and family history. Prostate cancer is most common in older men, in men with a family history of prostate cancer, and in black men. But cancer risk is also clearly connected to things you can change, which is what I'll focus on here. The steps I outline below may help reduce your risk of prostate cancer, and they may reduce your risk of other cancers and heart disease, too!
Eat a variety of fruits and vegetables. A diet high in fruits and vegetables has been linked to a lower risk of various kinds of cancer. Foods high in folate, a B vitamin found in spinach, asparagus and some beans, may be helpful. (Note, however, that taking supplements of a related compound -- folic acid -- have actually been shown to increase risk of prostate cancer.)
Choose healthy foods and eat in moderation. The main thing is to avoid a lot of highly processed, high-carb, high-sugar food. Skip the junk food, soft drinks and candy. Go for fresh, natural, whole grain products. Some foods that seem particularly helpful in preventing prostate cancer are:
  • Cold-water fish like salmon and herring
  • Soy products and other beans
  • Green tea
  • Foods high in vitamin D such as cheese and egg yolks (talk to your doctor to see if a vitamin D supplement is recommended)
Drink alcohol in moderation. Generally, this means no more than 2 drinks a day for men. Studies show that regular heavy drinking increases the risk of aggressive prostate cancer.

Exercise. Do some form of aerobic exercise for 30 minutes or more a day.

You may have heard news reports about certain medications that may reduce prostate cancer risk. Medicines such as some anti-cholesterol drugs, or drugs like Finasteride (used to treat a noncancerous enlargement of the prostate) may, in fact, prove beneficial.

Because the exact cause of prostate cancer is not understood, it is not known if it is possible to prevent it either. The major risk factors -- age, race, and family history -- cannot be changed. But some of the less well-established risk factors can be modified and may have a preventive effect. Most of these involve the diet or dietary supplements. A diet low in fat and consisting mostly of vegetables, fruits, and grains may help prevent prostate cancer. The American Cancer Society recommends limiting high-fat foods, especially from animal sources, and consuming primarily foods from plant sources. Getting five or more servings of fruits and vegetables per day is also emphasized to ensure an adequate amount of cancer fighting antioxidants and other phytochemicals. Breads, cereals, grain products, rice, pasta, and beans are also recommended. This approach to eating helps lower the risk for several types of cancer.

As always, vitamin supplements should be used with caution, avoiding excessive doses. Regular exercise, maintaining a healthy body weight, not smoking, and not drinking too much alcohol are all healthy habits that may also have a beneficial effect on prostate cancer risk.

You may lower your risk of prostate cancer by eating a diet that is:
  • high in omega-3 fatty acids
  • low-fat
  • similar to the traditional Japanese diet
  • vegetarian
Finasteride (Proscar, generic) and dutasteride (Avodart) are drugs used to treat prostate enlargement (benign prostatic hyperplasia, or BPH). If you do not have prostate cancer and your PSA score is 3.0 or lower, ask your health-care provider about the pros and cons of taking these drugs to prevent prostate cancer.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.