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Prostate Cancer Prevention (PDQ®): Prevention - Patient Information [NCI] - Prostate Cancer Prevention

Avoiding risk factors and increasing protective factors may help prevent cancer.

Avoiding cancer risk factors may help prevent certain cancers. Risk factors include smoking, being overweight, and not getting enough exercise. Increasing protective factors such as quitting smoking, eating a healthy diet, and exercising may also help prevent some cancers. Talk to your doctor or other health care professional about how you might lower your risk of cancer.

Recommended Related to Prostate Cancer

Prostate Cancer: The Basics

The prostate is a muscular, walnut-sized gland that surrounds part of the urethra, the tube that transports urine and sperm out of the body. A gland is a group of cells that secretes chemicals that act on or control the activity of other cells or organs. The prostate is part of the male reproductive system. Its main job is to make seminal fluid, the milky substance that transports sperm. Sperm is produced in the testicles, which also make the male hormone testosterone. Testosterone stimulates the...

Read the Prostate Cancer: The Basics article > >

The following risk factors may increase the risk of prostate cancer:


Prostate cancer is rare in men younger than 50 years of age. The chance of developing prostate cancer increases as men get older.

Family history of prostate cancer

A man whose father, brother, or son has had prostate cancer has a higher-than-average risk of prostate cancer.


Prostate cancer occurs more often in African-American men than in white men. African-American men with prostate cancer are more likely to die from the disease than white men with prostate cancer.


The prostate needs male hormones to work the way it should. The main male sex hormone is testosterone. Testosterone helps the body develop and maintain male sex characteristics.

Testosterone is changed into dihydrotestosterone (DHT) by an enzyme in the body. DHT is important for normal prostate growth but can also cause the prostate to get bigger and may play a part in the development of prostate cancer.

Vitamin E

The Selenium and Vitamin E Cancer Prevention Trial (SELECT) found that vitamin E taken alone increased the risk of prostate cancer. The risk continued even after the men stopped taking vitamin E.

Folic acid

Folate is a kind of vitamin B that occurs naturally in some foods, such as green vegetables, beans and orange juice. Folic acid is a man-made form of folate that is found in vitamin supplements and fortified foods, such as whole-grain breads and cereals. A 10-year study showed that the risk of prostate cancer was increased in men who took 1 milligram (mg) supplements of folic acid. However, the risk of prostate cancer was lower in men who had enough folate in their diets.

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