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
  • Spinach
  • Artichoke hearts
  • Beans
  • Berries -- especially blueberries
  • Pink grapefruit and oranges
  • Watermelon

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:

Testing for Prostate Cancer

While testing, or screening for prostate cancer, can find it early, experts disagree on whether it actually helps save lives.

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 using a PSA test and digital rectal exam.

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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 age 45.
  • Men who have two or more first-degree relatives -- brother, father, or son -- diagnosed with prostate cancer before age 65 should have that discussion when they are 40.

The American Urological Association suggests that men ages 55 to 69 who are considering screening should talk with their doctors about the risks and benefits of testing and proceed based on their personal values and preferences. The group also adds:

  • PSA screening in men under age 40 years is not recommended.
  • Routine screening in men between ages 40 to 54 years at average risk is not recommended.
  • To reduce the harms of screening, a routine screening interval of two years or more may be preferred over annual screening in those men who have decided on screening after a discussion with their doctor. As compared to annual screening, it is expected that screening intervals of two years preserve the majority of the benefits and reduce overdiagnosis and false positives.
  • Routine PSA screening is not recommended in men over age 70 or any man with less than a 10-15 year life expectancy.

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force , however, doesn't recommend routine PSA screening for men in the general population, regardless of age. They say the tests may find cancers that are so slow-growing that medical treatments -- which can have serious side effects -- would offer no benefit.

WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Stuart Bergman, MD on September 14, 2015

Sources

SOURCES:

American Cancer Society: "Can prostate cancer be prevented?" and "Diet and physical activity factors that affect risks for select cancers."

Mayo Clinic: "Lycopene."

U.S. Preventive Services Task Force.

 

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