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Things That Ward Off "Deadly" Prostate Cancer

Experts explain how to help prevent prostate cancer. 
FACT CHECKED BY Emilia Paluszek

Prostate cancer is one of the most common cancers for men. "This year, an estimated 268,490 men in the United States will be diagnosed with prostate cancer. Worldwide, an estimated 1,414,259 people were diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2020," according to cancer.net.  While it's scary to hear a prostate cancer diagnosis, it can be very treatable. In addition there are several preventive measures men can take, according to experts we spoke with. Read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.

1

Who Is At Risk For Prostate Cancer

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Dr. Jonathan Stegall, MD, Integrative Oncologist, Medical Director for The Center for Advanced Medicine and bestselling author of Cancer Secrets says, "Men of any age are at risk for prostate cancer, but the biggest risk factor for developing prostate cancer is age. The adage is, 'You will get prostate cancer if you live long enough.' We see this in the data, as the median age at diagnosis is 67. Prostate cancer is most frequently diagnosed in men ages 65-74. In addition to age, men who have a family history of prostate cancer, as well as men who are African-American, are at the highest risk for developing prostate cancer. There also appears to be a link between obesity and prostate cancer. Diets high in dairy products also seem to increase the risk of prostate cancer."

Dr. Sukriti Bhardwaj, Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine adds, "In addition to the factors described above, there is strong evidence that being overweight or obese increases the risk of advanced prostate cancer. Various hormones and growth factors are elevated in a state of obesity such as insulin and leptin, which can promote the growth of cancer cells. Additionally, obesity is characterized by low-grade inflammation which may promote cancer development. There is some evidence that higher intake of dairy products and diets high in calcium may increase prostate cancer risk." 

2

How Treatable Is Prostate Cancer

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Dr. Stegall emphasizes, "Prostate cancer is very treatable. The five-year survival rate for prostate cancer is 96.8%. Most men with prostate cancer diet with it, and not from it. Prostate cancer detected early, when it is still confined to the prostate, is easily treated with excellent outcomes. Thus, routine screening is imperative. I believe men should start having a prostate-specific antigen (PSA) level checked yearly starting by age 40. It is important to keep in mind that PSA can increase due to non-cancerous reasons as well, but PSA provides a good starting point and is easily measured on routine blood work."

Dr. Bhardwaj says, "In general, the earlier prostate cancer is caught, the more likely it is for a man to get successful treatment. The stage at which cancer is diagnosed, also known as the extent of cancer in the body, plays a large role in determining treatment options and it has a strong influence on survival. When cancer is found only in the part of the body where it originated, it is localized. Regional or distant cancer occurs when it spreads to a different part of the body from where it originated. 72.8% of prostate cancer is diagnosed in the local stage and the 5 year relative survival, which is an estimate of the percentage of patients who would be expected to survive their cancer, is 100.0%. In contrast, 7% of cancer is diagnosed after it has metastasized i.e. spread to a distant site such as the bones. The 5 year relative survival in this case is dramatically lower, at 32.3%. The outlook after receiving a prostate cancer diagnosis depends on cancer stage and overall health. It is important to note that prostate cancers that are localized and slow growing may never need treatment. In the event that treatment is indicated in the setting of early-stage prostate cancer, local treatments may eradicate the cancer completely so the outlook is good."

3

Avoiding Processed Foods

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Adam Ramin, MD, urologic surgeon and medical director of Urology Cancer Specialists in Los Angeles shares, "Foods that are treated with preservatives and are found in a can, a box, or prepared to last a long time may cause cancer. The preservative products and treatment of these foods with heat/radiation may alter their natural chemical makeup. This in turn may contribute to formation of products in our digestive system that cause DNA mutations and eventually cancer." 

4

Maintaining A Healthy Immune System

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Dr. Ramin states, "The immune system is our first line of defense against cancerous cells. Long before a particular type of cancer has grown and multiplied enough times to become detectable by blood tests, imaging, or screening tools, the cancer had initially started with a tiny microscopically sized colony of individual cells. This small population of cancer cells are not detectable by even modern methods of cancer screening. However the amazing human body's immune system is capable of identifying and mounting a strike force against these unwanted mutant cells. By maintaining a healthy vibrant immune system, we give our own bodies a fighting chance at irradiating the cancer cells at their infancy. How do we promote a healthy immune system?

  1. Reduce stress and declutter our minds. Let go of petty unimportant matters from your thoughts. 
  2. Eat fresh healthy foods and avoid high fat diets. 
  3. Eat immune boosting fruits and vegetables such as berries, beets, celery, carrots, pomegranates. 
  4. Exercise daily or live an active life: no need to go to the gym.  Spend more time walking rather than driving; spend more time standing rather than sitting; take the stairs rather than elevators going up and down; flex your abdominal muscles every chance you get, such as while sitting, bending, and driving."
5

Maintain A Healthy Weight

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Dr. Bhardwaj says, "Being overweight or obesity can be a risk factor for developing more aggressive prostate cancer. Even after a prostate cancer diagnosis, gaining weight is linked to reduced longevity and increased risk of prostate cancer recurrence. Thus, losing weight and maintaining a healthy weight as you get older can help reduce your risk of cancer and many other health problems. Using the dietary strategies discussed previously are an important component of an overall plan to achieve and maintain a healthy weight."  

6

Prostate Cancer Prevention From Your 20s-40s

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Dr. Ramin says, "In his 20s, a man often feels invincible, and statistically speaking, he can seem to be. But there are plenty of lifestyle factors that can tip his health scales in the wrong direction, setting him up for increased prostate cancer risk down the road. At this age, maintaining normal body weight and ensuring exercise and proper nutrition is a priority is prudent. Making regular health screenings (physicals and dental screenings, for example) a habit in your 20s is also a good practice. It sets you up to be more easily prepared for doctor's appointments when they are essential down the road. 

In their 30s, men should prioritize screenings related to cholesterol, blood pressure, and diabetes. While these concerns may be seemingly unrelated to prostate cancer risk, they can be, especially as men age. Studies suggest that a pre-existing diabetes diagnosis can put a man at a higher risk of advanced prostate cancer, as well as a nearly 30% increase in death from prostate cancer. Additionally, high cholesterol numbers may increase a man's risk of developing more aggressive types of prostate cancer. A focus on total wellness now can help reduce the risk of many types of cancer when you get older, prostate cancer included.

Beginning in their 40's, men should consider adding an annual prostate exam to their calendared health checks. Especially for those with an increased risk of developing prostate cancer (African American men and men with a first-degree relative who has had prostate cancer, for example), earlier screening for prostate cancer can be prudent. When screenings such as those for prostate cancer are begun earlier in a man's life, they can help create a crucial prostate wellness "baseline." Wellness baselines can help patients and their providers track health metrics across the lifespan so that a healthcare provider can identify dips or spikes in health measures as soon as possible."

7

Get An Annual Check Up

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According to Dr. Ramin, "In the United States, the average age of prostate cancer diagnosis is 69. After that year, the chances that a man will develop prostate cancer increase significantly. So, around the age of 50, men should be receiving a regular, annual physical and screening for prostate cancer.  Putting in the work of getting comfortable with and committed to regular health checkups puts a man in a much better position to identify problems early when he's older."

Heather Newgen
Heather Newgen has two decades of experience reporting and writing about health, fitness, entertainment and travel. Heather currently freelances for several publications. Read more
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