Prostate Cancer: Get the Facts on Screenings & Diet News

Prostate Cancer: Get the Facts on Screenings & Diet News

There's a lot of confusion about prostate cancer, especially when it comes to prevention and screening. To help clear things up, here are some answers to top questions about this common form of cancer.

How many men does prostate cancer affect?
Prostate cancer affects one in six American men, making it the second leading cause of cancer death for men. The good news is that most cases grow very slowly (especially in older age), meaning that a smaller percentage of cases lead to death. So while 16 percent of men will develop it, only 2.9 percent will die from it.

Who is at risk?
Men over age 50 are at highest risk.

What can I do to prevent prostate cancer?
You may have heard the recent news that omega-3 fatty acids raise your risk of prostate cancer. This, however, is not true. A thorough analysis of the research (which I’ll spare you) has shown that we don’t fully know how omega-3s impact cancer risk—but evidence does not suggest that they increase it. We do know that omega-3s lead to lower rates of death from all causes, including cardiac arrest, and slow the rates of cellular aging. Many nutrition experts recommend eating foods high in omega-3s on a weekly basis to improve heart health. Omega-3s are known to lower cholesterol, blood pressure and triglyceride levels, among other health benefits. They can be found in fish such as salmon, mackerel and tuna. Other omega-3 fatty acids can be found in green vegetables such as Brussels sprouts, kale and spinach, and in certain vegetable oils, such as flaxseed and canola. While it’s agreed that getting nutrients from your food is the best source, you may also consider taking an omega-3 supplement of 500 mg/day.

One thing that we do know raises your risk: Obesity. Men with a BMI over 30 have a 33 percent higher risk of dying from prostate cancer. High cholesterol leads to a similar risk. So, get that weight and those lipids in check!

When should I start screening?
This is another controversy. The problem is that prostate cancer is often asymptomatic in the early stages. However many groups argue that, since the disease typically is not deadly, in many cases the treatment for prostate cancer may be more harmful than the condition itself. So this is an area in which men must have a thorough discussion with their doctor, weighing their risks and preference for treatment. Prostate cancer screening should be discussed with men starting at age 50, or at 40 to 45 for those who are higher risk for the disease (those who are African-American, have a family history or a BRCA gene mutation). Most experts recommend that screening include both a PSA level (blood draw) every two to four years, stopping at around age 75.

What if I’m diagnosed with prostate cancer?
Treatment wise, it can be difficult to know what to do, especially in light of side effects that may come with some treatments. In this video, Simon Hall, MD, chairman of the department of urology at The Mount Sinai Medical Center, weighs the options.

The American Cancer Society also has important information to help you make this decision. Visit and check out their Cancer Screening Guidelines.

Medically reviewed and updated in August 2019.

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