About 1 Man In 7 Will Get The Diagnosis In His Lifetime
Other than skin cancer, prostate cancer is the most common cancer in American men. About 1 man in 7 will be diagnosed with prostate cancer during his lifetime. More than 2 million men in the U.S. count themselves as prostate cancer survivors. Researchers have found several risk factors that might affect a man’s risk of getting prostate cancer:
Prostate cancer is rare in men younger than 40, but the chance of having prostate cancer rises rapidly after age 50. About 6 in 10 prostate cancers are found in men older than 65. The average age at the time of diagnosis is about 66.
Prostate cancer occurs more often in African-American men and Caribbean men of African ancestry than in men of other races. African-American men are also more than twice as likely to die of prostate cancer than white men. Prostate cancer occurs less often in Asian-American and Hispanic/Latino men than in non-Hispanic whites. The reasons for these racial and ethnic differences are not clear.
Prostate cancer is most common in North America, northwestern Europe, Australia, and on Caribbean islands. It is less common in Asia, Africa, Central America, and South America. The reasons for this are not clear. More intensive screening in some developed countries probably accounts for at least part of this difference, but other factors such as lifestyle differences (diet, etc.) are likely to be important as well. For example, Asian-Americans have a lower risk of prostate cancer than white Americans, but their risk is higher than that of men of similar backgrounds living in Asia.
Prostate cancer seems to run in some families, which suggests that in some cases there may be an inherited or genetic factor. (Still, most prostate cancers occur in men without a family history of it.)
Having a father or brother with prostate cancer more than doubles a man’s risk of developing this disease. The risk is much higher for men with several affected relatives, particularly if their relatives were young when the cancer was found.
Several inherited gene changes (mutations) seem to raise prostate cancer risk, but they probably account for only a small percentage of cases overall. For example:
- Inherited mutations of the BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes raise the risk of breast and ovarian cancers in some families. Mutations in these genes (especially in BRCA2) may also increase prostate cancer risk in some men.
- Men with Lynch syndrome (also known as hereditary non-polyposis colorectal cancer, or HNPCC), a condition caused by inherited gene changes, have an increased risk for a number of cancers, including prostate cancer.
Other inherited gene changes can also raise a man’s risk of prostate cancer.
FACTORS WITH A LESS CLEAR EFFECT ON PROSTATE CANCER RISK DIET
The exact role of diet in prostate cancer is not clear, but several factors have been studied. Men who eat a lot of red meat or high-fat dairy products appear to have a slightly higher chance of getting prostate cancer. These men also tend to eat fewer fruits and vegetables. Some studies have suggested that men who consume a lot of calcium (through food or supplements) may have a higher risk of developing prostate cancer. Dairy foods (which are often high in calcium) might also increase risk. But most studies have not found such a link with the levels of calcium found in the average diet.
Being obese (very overweight) does not seem to increase the overall risk of getting prostate cancer. Some studies have found that obese men have a lower risk of getting a low-grade (less dangerous) form of the disease, but a higher risk of getting more aggressive prostate cancer. The reasons for this are not clear.
Most studies have not found a link between smoking and getting prostate cancer. Some research has linked smoking to a possible small increased risk of dying from prostate cancer, but this finding needs to be confirmed by other studies.
There is some evidence that firefighters can be exposed to chemicals that may increase their risk of prostate cancer.
A few studies have suggested a possible link between exposure to Agent Orange, a chemical used widely during the Vietnam War, and prostate cancer, although not all studies have found such a link. The Institute of Medicine considers there to be “limited/suggestive evidence” of a link between Agent Orange exposure and prostate cancer.
INFLAMMATION OF THE PROSTATE
Some studies have suggested that prostatitis (inflammation of the prostate gland) may be linked to an increased risk of prostate cancer, but other studies have not found such a link. Inflammation is often seen in samples of prostate tissue that also contain cancer. The link between the two is not yet clear, and is an active area of research.
SEXUALLY TRANSMITTED INFECTIONS
Researchers have looked to see if sexually transmitted infections (such as gonorrhea or chlamydia) might increase the risk of prostate cancer, because they can lead to inflammation of the prostate. So far, studies have not agreed, and no firm conclusions have been reached.
Some studies have suggested that men who have a vasectomy (minor surgery to make a man infertile) have a slightly increased risk for prostate cancer, but other studies have not found this. Research on this possible link is still being done.
For more information about this disease, visit cancer.org/cancer/prostatecancer
Courtesy of the American Cancer Society
Category: Health & Fitness Articles