Prostate cancer is the most common cancer among Canadian men (excluding non-melanoma skin cancers) and it is the third leading cancer cause of death of men in Canada.1 Although fatal in some cases (nine percent of all cancer deaths in men), the vast majority of cases can be cured or controlled with treatment and lifestyle changes.
Achieve a Healthy Body Weight
The link between body weight and prostate cancer has been determined as an important risk factor. A body mass index (BMI) over 30 increases your risk of being diagnosed with advanced prostate cancer. As advanced prostate cancer needs more aggressive treatment and can be incurable, take action to reduce your BMI if you are overweight. Achieving a healthier body weight may also reduce your risk of lymphoma and cancers affecting the colon, kidney, thyroid, and pancreas.2
Stay Physically Active
There is evidence indicating that regular exercise doesn’t only help with weight loss, keeping active can even help protect yourself against prostate cancer. Reviewing the results of 43 studies, researchers found that active men between the age of 20 and 65 were significantly less likely to have a prostate tumour. The benefits of exercise were not seen among those over the age of 65 so making sure that you are active during your younger years seems to be the key to protect against cancer of the prostate. Regular exercise has also been shown to protect against colon cancer as working out strengthens the heart, lungs, and bones.3
Increase Your Intake of Dietary Lycopene
Lycopene is the red pigment that gives tomatoes and other fruits and vegetables their color and is a potent antioxidant.4 This means that lycopene helps to neutralize free radicals, which have the potential to cause cancerous changes within your body’s cells. It appears that lycopene offers the most benefit in protecting the prostate gland, with recent studies adding further weight to lycopene’s ability to protect against prostate cancer.5 The latest evidence has shown that higher dietary intakes of lycopene can reduce the risk of developing prostate cancer by nine percent and fatal cancers by 28 percent.
Avoid High Dose Vitamin and Mineral Supplements
Selenium and vitamin supplements cannot be advocated for the prevention of prostate cancer as higher doses may be associated with a worse prognosis.6 In large quantities they appear to cause harm to the cells of the prostate. The best option is to receive all of the vital vitamins and minerals by following a healthy, well-balanced diet.
Consider Medication Options
Although most drugs can be safely taken without increasing your risk of prostate cancer, if you take anabolic steroids to increase your muscle mass, you should reconsider using these. This is because anabolic steroids increase levels of testosterone in the body, which is a risk factor for prostate tumors, and indeed prostate cancer is more common among people who use this type of steroid. It is also worth noting that while aspirin and statins are essential for the management of risk factors for cardiovascular disease, both drugs can lower levels of Prostate-Specific-Antigen (PSA). As PSA is a marker of prostate cancer, a lower value may mask prostate tumors so that they are not picked up till a more advanced stage. This doesn’t mean that you should discontinue aspirin or statins, but you should tell your urologist that you take these medications to allow them to take this into account when analyzing the results of a PSA screen. However, there is good news about one medication and its potential to lower your risk of prostate cancer. Research shows that finasteride, which is prescribed to manage benign prostatic hyperplasia and male pattern baldness, lowers the overall risk of prostate cancer by 43 per cent. While the trial did show there was a small increase in high-grade prostate tumors when taking finasteride, this may stem from the fact that a smaller prostate makes tumors easier to detect. With these promising results, further research is necessary to show whether finasteride has a positive influence on the death rate among those with prostate cancer.