With regard to prostate cancer, prevention is the best strategy, as is the case for many other diseases. Being well-informed on the subject will allow you to make informed choices for your health.
What is prostate cancer?
The prostate is a gland the size of a walnut. It is located under the bladder and surrounds the urinary tract. For men, the prostate is essential for the production of sperm, and consequently, for reproduction. In Canada, prostate cancer is the most prevalent type of cancer in men. Moreover, it is the third leading cause of death by cancer in Canadians.
However, it generally evolves slowly and can often be successfully cured or treated. The earlier it is detected, the better chances for effective treatment and a cure.
Am I at risk?
For most types of cancer, a certain number of elements may predispose a person to develop it. We refer to these elements as “risk factors”. Some risk factors have been identified for prostate cancer. There are two main types of risk factors: those that can be modified and those that cannot.
Here are a few examples of risk factors that cannot be modified:
- your age: men who are 50 years and older have a higher risk of prostate cancer and those who are 65 years and older have an even higher risk;
- your family history: your risk is higher if your father or one of your brothers has had prostate cancer;
- your ethnic origin: your risk is increased if you are Afro-American, it is reduced if you are Asian.
How can prostate cancer be prevented?
The good news is that you can choose to reduce your risk by influencing certain factors that can be modified. In this perspective, it may be wise to adopt or modify the following lifestyle choices:
- Reduce your fat intake. It has been shown that eating foods with a high fat content, such as meats and milk products, can increase the risk of prostate cancer. Red meat has been singled out in particular. Limit your consumption of these foods or choose those which have a low fat content.
- Follow the Canada Food Guide. Everyone knows the importance of eating well to stay healthy. Basing your food choices according to the Canada Food Guide will help you ensure that your essential nutrient requirements, such as vitamins and minerals, are met. Eating a lot of fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, and foods rich in whole grains and fish can be a good strategy to prevent several diseases. Additionally, a healthy, balanced diet will help you maintain a healthy weight. Excess weight and obesity are also risk factors for prostate cancer.
- Eat more tomatoes. Some scientific studies show that eating more foods rich in “lycopene”, an antioxidant nutrient, may help to prevent developing prostate cancer. The tomato is an example of food that contains it.
- Quit smoking. As you probably know, smoking increases the risk of developing several types of cancers, including prostate cancer. In addition to reducing your risk in this regard, quitting smoking for good can bring you a number of other benefits for your health, well-being and quality of life.
- See your doctor regularly. The best way to limit the consequences of prostate cancer on your life is early detection. See your doctor and talk about your risk of prostate cancer and the appropriate screening measures. Prostate cancer screening can be done using two complementary tests. First, the doctor may do a rectal examination. Moreover, a blood test helps to detect rising PSA levels, or Prostate Specific Antigen. These two tests are not always done on all patients, but are recommended for certain men, especially those who are 50 years and older and who have a life expectancy of at least 10 more years.
It is true that prostate cancer is a threat to men’s health. However, isn’t it reassuring to know that you can set up prevention measures right now? Talk to your doctor or pharmacist for more information on the subject.