Prostate cancer affects mainly older men. Four out of five cases are diagnosed in men over 65, but less than 1% in men under 50. Though uncommon, prostate cancer can be seen in men even in their 30's and 40's. Men with a family history of prostate cancer are more likely to develop prostate cancer than the general population.
On a case-by-case basis, doctors cannot say with certainty what causes prostate cancer, but experts generally agree that diet contributes to the risk. Men who consume large amounts of fat -- particularly from red meat and other sources of animal fat -- are more likely to develop advanced prostate cancer. The disease is much more common in countries where meat and dairy products are dietary staples than in countries where the basic diet consists of rice, soybean products, and vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, cole slaw, or sauerkraut.
There are no warning signs of early prostate cancer. Once a tumor causes the prostate gland to swell, or once cancer spreads beyond the prostate, the following symptoms may happen:
A frequent need to urinate, especially at night
Difficulty starting or stopping a stream of urine
A weak or interrupted urinary stream
Leaking of urine when laughing or coughing
Inability to urinate standing up
A painful or burning sensation during urination or ejaculation
Blood in urine or semen
The underlying factor linking diet and prostate cancer is probably hormonal. Fats stimulate increased production of testosterone and other hormones, and testosterone acts to speed the growth of prostate cancer. High testosterone levels may stimulate dormant prostate cancer cells into activity. Some findings msuggest that high testosterone levels also influence the initial onset of prostate cancer. Eating meat may be risky for other reasons, such as meat cooked at high temperatures produces cancer-causing substances that directly affect the prostate. Other risk factors have been noted. Welders, battery manufacturers, rubber workers, and workers frequently exposed to the metal cadmium seem to be abnormally vulnerable to prostate cancer.
The following are associated with an increased risk of advanced prostate cancer: Height, high body mass index, low physical activity, smoking, low tomato sauce consumption, high calcium intake, high linoleic acid intake, African-American race, and a positive family history.
No proven link exists between prostate cancer and an active sex life, vasectomy, masturbation, use of alcohol or tobacco, circumcision, infertility, infection of the prostate, or a common noncancerous condition called benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). Most, if not all, men will experience an enlarged prostate as they age.