Prostate cancer is the most common cancer among men (after skin cancer), but fortunately it can be treated successfully when caught early. For the year 2023, the American Cancer Society estimates that about 191,930 men in the U.S. will be diagnosed with this disease and about 33,300 men will die from it. During a man’s lifetime, about 1 in 9 men will develop prostate cancer.
Any cancer diagnosis is scary and all of us want to avoid one. While it may not be completely understood or known exactly what triggers the onset of prostate cancer, it does not mean men are helpless in reducing their risk of it. It starts with being knowledgeable about the disease and what steps men can take significantly lowering their chance of ever hearing, “You have prostate cancer.”
Take this quiz to find out ways prostate cancer may be avoided:
1. Which of the following may possibly be symptoms of prostate cancer?
- Frequent urination and difficulty starting or stopping a urine stream
- Erectile dysfunction or painful ejaculation
- Blood in urine or semen
- Back or hip pain
- All of the above
2. Early detection is key for the greatest chance of prostate cancer survival. Which screening test is best for this:
- PSA (prostate specific antigen)
- CBC (complete blood count)
- DRE (digital rectal exam)
3. At what age should men get a baseline PSA?
4. Lycopene is a powerful antioxidant research has shown to possibly reduce prostate cancer. Which foods are rich sources of it?
- Whole grains such as brown rice and farro
- Dark leafy greens such as spinach and kale
- Tomatoes and tomato products like tomato paste, watermelons, pink grapefruit and pink guava
- Dairy products such as milk, cheese, and yogurt
5. Certain risk factors that are unchangeable have been linked to an increased risk of prostate cancer. These risk factors include:
- Any man over the age of 50
- African American men
- Family history of prostate cancer
- Veterans and men exposed to Agent Orange
- All of the above
6. Drinking green tea and more water are among the top drinks supporting prostate health.
7. Some of the best lifestyle ways to reduce prostate cancer risk are:
- Have a dog or cat as pets
- Use herbal supplements such as St. John’s Wort
- Regular exercise, don’t smoke, and lose weight if necessary
- All of the above
8. Frequent sex may play a role in lowering prostate cancer risk
- It looks promising
- E – All of the above. However, prostate cancer can also have no symptoms which is why early detection through prostate cancer screenings are recommended.
- A – PSA. Prostate specific antigen is a protein made by cells in the prostate gland and is mostly found in semen but a small amount is also found in blood. This blood test is measured in units called nanograms per milliliter (ng/mL). As the PSA level goes up, the chance of having prostate cancer rises also. Most men without prostate cancer have a PSA levels under 4 ng/mL of blood; men with a PSA level between 4 and 10 are at an increased risk of having prostate cancer and if the PSA is more than 10 have a greater risk. However, a level below 4 does not guarantee a man doesn’t have prostate cancer and may need further screening. Always ask your doctor for further explanation of this test result.
- B – age 40. It is recommended for men to get a baseline PSA at age 40. PSA values can be tracked overtime and compared with past PSA numbers – if the number is rising this could indicate need for further screening.
- C – Tomatoes and tomato products like tomato paste, watermelons, pink grapefruit and pink guava. Several studies have found that men who consume high intakes of tomato or tomato-based products had a 10% to 20% decrease in prostate cancer risk and that high serum or plasma concentrations of lycopene were associated with a 25% reduced risk. It appears that lycopene fights cancer by reducing the spread of cancerous cells. It also works by neutralizing compounds known as free radicals that can damage DNA and other cell structures that lead to inflammation and cancer development.
- A – True. Green tea contains potent antioxidants which studies have shown may prevent prostate cancer from forming and may also slow the growth of aggressive prostate cancer. Studies also show that green tea can also benefit men with BPH (benign prostatic hyperplasia) and prostatitis. Consuming a minimum of eight glasses of water each day not only helps eliminate toxins but also keeps men well hydrated, both good for prostate health.
- C – Regular exercise, don’t smoke, and lose weight if necessary. Exercise and losing weight are some of the best lifestyle activities promoting prostate health in addition to reducing risk of BPH and urinary tract symptoms. If you’re a smoker looking for a reason to quit, consider this: smoking may boost the odds of developing aggressive prostate cancer that metastasizes or spreads throughout the body. While the biological link is not clear, the cancerous pollutants smoker inhale is excreted to some extent in urine which flows through the prostate. Often smokers also have practice poor lifestyle choices such as inadequate exercise or excessive alcohol use. While pets are fun to have, they are not known to affect a man’s risk for prostate cancer. Herbal supplements, such as St. John’s Wort, may be helpful for relieving depression, it is not known to be helpful for reducing risk of prostate cancer. Any man considering using an herbal supplement, should discuss the risks and benefits first with their doctor before taking. Dietary supplements are unregulated meaning any claims they make do not need to be proven therefore safety is not assured.
- C – It looks promising. Without definitively saying true or false, research suggests that the more often men ejaculate, the less likely they will develop prostate cancer. A 2016 major study found that men who had frequent sex (at least 21 times a month) had about a 20% lower chance of prostate cancer compared to men who had less sex (4 to 7 times a month). It’s not understood completely why more sex might reduce prostate cancer risk but some speculate that it can flush out harmful chemicals such as carcinogens that might build up in semen. Since the research was observational, they can only show association and not causation. While the evidence isn’t strong enough to recommend upping sexual frequency for the sole purpose of preventing prostate cancer, at the same time, it’s hard to beat the fringe benefits.
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.