A common question urologists are often asked from male patients is, “Doc, how can I reduce my risk of developing prostate cancer.”
This is a great question all men should be asking. But unfortunately, men usually ignore their prostate until problems begin. But why wait until something goes wrong? Men can work with their doctor to fine-tune how to treat their prostate respectfully. And guess what? Men will most likely improve their chances of dodging prostate cancer and other prostate-related conditions.
This gland, located between the bladder and the penis, is roughly the size of a walnut. The prostate has the unique function of producing the fluid that, along with sperm cells from the testicles and fluids from other glands, creates semen.
Obviously, the number one concern for men is prostate cancer, and for a good reason. However, the prostate is vulnerable to other associated conditions, including prostatitis and BPH (benign prostatic hyperplasia). That’s why the earlier in life a man does think about it, the greater the likelihood of avoiding potential issues in the future. All men can and should take preventative steps to keep their prostate in tip-top shape regardless of whether they have a family history of prostate cancer.
The American Cancer Society estimates 288,300 new cases of prostate cancer will be found and diagnosed in 2023. About one man in 8 will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in his lifetime. Other than skin cancer, prostate cancer is the most common cancer in American men.
While there are cancer-risk factors a man cannot change, such as family history, age, and ethnicity, men can embrace several other ways and lifestyle habits to protect and preserve prostate health.
Here’s a look at important steps every man can do to improve his chances of keeping his prostate healthy and cancer free:
Men should reach a healthy body weight for their height paying special attention to reducing central abdominal obesity or belly fat. A consistent, regular exercise program can help maintain weight and keep it from accumulating in the belly area.
Mom was right – eat your fruits and vegetables. They are that good for everyone, especially men.
At a minimum, men should consume five servings of fruits and vegetables daily. The more a man chooses colorful produce to eat, the better. Choose from tomatoes loaded with the phytochemical lycopene and pink grapefruit, watermelons, and papaya, which also contain this healthy compound for prostates. Cruciferous vegetables are always a good choice for preventing all cancers and include broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, Bok choy, and kale.
Do you need ideas on adding more fruits and vegetables to your daily routine? Try these ideas:
Always use sunscreen but don’t avoid the sun either. The sun is our best source of vitamin D, a known nutrient to possibly help reduce the risk of developing prostate cancer. However, too little sun and a man may run the risk of increasing his chance of getting the disease.
The role of smoking appears to increase the risk of prostate cancer by affecting circulating hormone levels or through exposure to carcinogens. Therefore, if a man currently smokes, he should seek help quitting as soon as possible.
The mineral selenium has been found in studies to play a role in preventing prostate cancer. Include more selenium-rich foods such as wheat germ, tuna, herring, beef liver, eggs, sunflower and sesame seeds, cashews, mushrooms, garlic, and onions.
It’s always advisable to know your family’s medical history. A man must know if any close relatives (father, brother, or grandfather) have ever had prostate issues or prostate cancer. A man’s doctor must be informed of this, as any man with a father or brother with prostate cancer has double the chance of developing this disease.
Other factors putting a man at a greater risk of developing prostate cancer include:
Any man who has two or more family members (father or brother) who were diagnosed with prostate cancer
Screening for prostate cancer can be confusing. Some doctors recommend prostate-cancer screening depending on whether the benefits outweigh some diagnostic tests and treatment risks. Some doctors encourage yearly screening for men over 50; others recommend against screening.
While most prostate cancer cases occur in men 55 or older, men younger are still at risk and do develop prostate cancer. The best time to begin prostate cancer screening is at 40 with a baseline PSA test. From this baseline, comparisons can be made between future tests to check for changes occurring in the prostate.
A PSA test measures the protein level in the blood that rises when the prostate gland enlarges. PSA levels alone do not provide enough information to distinguish between benign or cancerous conditions, but they can help doctors decide whether to check for further signs of prostate cancer.
A digital rectal exam allows doctors to feel the prostate gland through the rectal wall to check for bumps or abnormal areas.
A man should consult with his doctor about when these tests should begin and then have an annual prostate cancer screening thereafter.
Dr. David Samadi is the Director of Men’s Health and Urologic Oncology at St. Francis Hospital in Long Island. He’s a renowned and highly successful board certified Urologic Oncologist Expert and Robotic Surgeon in New York City, regarded as one of the leading prostate surgeons in the U.S., with a vast expertise in prostate cancer treatment and Robotic-Assisted Laparoscopic Prostatectomy. Dr. Samadi is a medical contributor to NewsMax TV and is also the author of The Ultimate MANual, Dr. Samadi’s Guide to Men’s Health and Wellness, available online both on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Visit Dr. Samadi’s websites at robotic oncology and prostate cancer 911.