What You Need to Know About Diet and Prostate Cancer
10 anti-cancer nutrition tips for men (and the women who love them)
In many ways, prostate cancer is to men what breast cancer is to women. It's
the second leading cause of cancer deaths in men (after lung cancer). And the
older men get, the higher the frequency of the disease.
Health experts estimate that nearly three out of every 10 men in their 50s
have prostate cancer, compared with about seven out of 10 men 80 or older. This
may seem like good news for younger men -- prostate cancer develops slowly, and
is uncommon before age 50. But the fact that it does develop slowly
behooves younger men to do whatever they can to help prevent it. And the fact
that prostate cancer often doesn't have noticeable symptoms behooves men 50 and
up to get annual checkups and testing.
September is Prostate Cancer Month, so this is a great time to take a few
minutes to learn more about this cancer and the dietary steps we can take to
reduce our risk.
Prostate Cancer Basics
Where is the Prostate?
The walnut-sized gland below a man's bladder is the prostate. Its function
is to produce semen.
How do they screen for Prostate Cancer?
Health care providers test for a substance called prostate-specific antigen
(PSA) in blood samples because PSA levels rise as prostate cancer progresses
(although higher levels can also be due to infection or enlargement of the
gland). Men should have annual PSA tests beginning at age 50, or 45 if they are
considered at higher risk. Rectal examinations are also used to detect prostate
changes. Annual digital rectal exams are also encouraged beginning at age 50
(45 for those at higher risk). If any problems are discovered (and rest assured
that most prostate problems are not cancer), an ultrasound test and biopsy may
be done to look for cancer cells.
Who has the highest prostate cancer rates?
Black Americans have the highest prostate cancer rates in the world, while
the disease is rare in Asia, Africa, and South America. Prostate cancer is most
common in North America and Northwestern Europe.
What are the symptoms?
- Need to urinate frequently, especially at night.
- Sense of urgency to urinate, but difficulty starting.
- Painful urination.
- Inability to urinate or weak or interrupted flow.
- Blood in urine.
- Continuing pain in the lower back, pelvis, or upper thigh.
These symptoms do not necessarily mean you have prostate cancer, but it's
wise to see a doctor if you notice any of them.
What's the survival rate?
When the cancer hasn't spread outside the prostate (and most don't), the
five-year survival rate is nearly 100%. For all stages of the disease combined,
the survival rate is 93%.
10 Food Tips to Help Lower Your Risk
We have a lot more to learn about diet and prostate cancer. Although we have
some encouraging studies to point to, none of the foods mentioned below have
been absolutely proven to prevent the disease. Still, these tips will most
likely not only help reduce your risk of prostate cancer, but improve your
health in general.