Preventing Prostate Cancer
To date, no evidence proves that you can prevent prostate cancer. However, you may be able to lower your risk.
A diet that helps maintain a healthy weight may reduce your risk for prostate cancer. The American Cancer Society recommends:
- Limiting high-fat foods
- Cutting back on red meats, especially processed meats such as hot dogs, bologna, and certain lunch meats
- Eating five or more servings of fruits and vegetables each day
Healthy food choices also include bread, cereals, rice, pasta, and beans.
Antioxidants in foods, especially in fruits and vegetables, help prevent damage to the DNA in the body's cells. Such damage has been linked to cancer. Lycopene, in particular, is an antioxidant that has been thought to lower the risk of prostate cancer. It can be found in foods such as:
- Tomatoes -- both raw and cooked
- Artichoke hearts
- Berries -- especially blueberries
- Pink grapefruit and oranges
However, it's not clear whether lycopene actually helps prevent prostate cancer, and recent studies have not been able to show that it does. Read more about antioxidant-rich fruits, vegetables, and beans.
Researchers continue studying other ways to lower prostate cancer risk. It’s still too soon, though, to know whether studies are finding new ways to prevent prostate cancer. Here are some examples of what's being considered:
- Some doctors are looking at whether certain drugs, such as Avodart (dutasteride) and Proscar (finasteride), which are both used to treat an enlarged prostate that isn't cancerous, can help prevent prostate cancer.
- Early studies showed that vitamins, such as selenium and vitamin E, may lower your chance of getting prostate cancer. Further research, though, has not shown this.
- Doctors continue to study the effects of supplements on prostate cancer. For now, no vitamins or supplements are known to lower risk.
Testing for Prostate Cancer
While testing, or screening for prostate cancer, can find it early, experts disagree on whether it actually helps save lives. That is why the American Cancer Society recommends that men talk to their doctor before having a test to check for prostate cancer. Men need to understand the risks and benefits of testing. Then, the man and his doctor can decide whether to proceed with testing with a PSA test and digital rectal exam.
When that discussion should take place is based on a man's age, level of risk, and general health status. Here are the general recommendations about when to consider testing:
- Men with no symptoms and average risk should discuss screening with their doctor at age 50.
- Men with higher risk, including African Americans and men who had a brother, father, or son diagnosed with prostate cancer before age 65, should have that discussion at 45.
- Men who have more than one first degree relative -- brother, father, or son -- diagnosed with prostate cancer before age 65 should have that discussion when they are 40.