Can you reduce prostate cancer risks with healthy choices? Study shows promising results.

Healthy lifestyle choices may help ward off the worst type of prostate cancer

Can you stave off lethal prostate cancer by changing your diet and lifestyle? Promising research suggests yes: Those changes can go a long way in reducing the risk of developing the worst type of this cancer.

The prostate is a walnut-sized gland that is part of the male reproductive system. It is located below the bladder and in front of the rectum. As men age, the prostate tends to get larger. This is one of several prostate changes that do not signal prostate cancer.

People with a prostate gland are at risk for developing prostate cancer. In the United States, it is estimated that over 3,000,000 men are currently living with prostate cancer.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that 13 of every 100 men in the U.S. will get prostate cancer, and two to three of those will die from the disease.

Risk factors for prostate cancer

  • Ethnicity — African American men are more likely to get prostate cancer than other groups, and are twice as likely to die from it
  • Family history — Genetics play a role in risk of prostate cancer. You are at higher risk if you have more than one close relative (father, son or brother, and including your mother’s side of the family) who had prostate cancer. Also if you have a family member with a history of breast cancer, ovarian cancer, and/or pancreatic cancer you may also be at a greater risk of prostate cancer based on hereditary cancer genes known as BRCA1 and BRCA2.
  • Age — You are at greater risk if you are diagnosed with prostate cancer before age 55

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Healthy choices reduce risk of death

Researchers from Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health looked at whether those at a higher risk of developing prostate cancer could slow the onset or lessen symptoms of the disease through changes in diet, activity and other lifestyle modifications.

Study participants were given a healthy lifestyle score that considered factors such as their weight, physical activity and smoking status, as well as their consumption of tomatoes and fatty fish and a low intake of processed meats.

Those with the highest healthy lifestyle scores had about half the risk of developing lethal (meaning they would likely die from it) prostate cancer, as compared with the group with the lowest health lifestyle scores.

“The decreased risk of aggressive disease in those with a favorable lifestyle may suggest that the excess genetic risk of lethal prostate cancer could be offset by adhering to a healthy lifestyle,” according to head researcher Anna Plym, Ph.D.

While the results of this study are promising, the study does not show direct cause and effect, but rather a correlation between lifestyle and prostate cancer.

Reviewed by Chandler Park, MD

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