Most experts admit that it’s a mystery why some prostate cells turn cancerous. However, researchers have identified some risk factors for prostate cancer, most of which you can control.
Age (and Prostate Cancer)
Just being on the planet for 65 years or longer is considered to be the strongest risk factor for prostate cancer. That’s the age group in which more than 60 percent of prostate cancers show up. (American Cancer Society) Since there’s nothing you can do about this risk factor, concentrate on those that you can control such as lifestyle, diet, nutrition and exercise as well as maintaining a positive, stress- and toxin-free environment.
Compared with white men, African-American men are twice as likely to develop prostate cancer in their early 50s and twice as likely to die of the disease. (American Cancer Society) They are also more likely to be in an advanced stage of the disease when diagnosed. (Winterich 2009) On the other end of the spectrum, Asian-Americans and Hispanic/Latino men are less likely to develop prostate cancer than are non-Hispanic white men. (American Cancer Society)
If your father or brother had or has prostate cancer, you are more than twice as likely to develop the disease. Your risk is ever greater if you have more than one close relative with prostate cancer. (American Cancer Society)
Scientists agree that genetics are responsible for 5 to 10 percent of prostate cancer cases. Among the genes identified as being responsible is one called HPC1 (Hereditary Prostate Cancer Gene 1).
Men who typically consume foods that promote inflammation and contain cancer-promoting substances; that is, a high-fat diet, lots of red meat, and one that is low in fiber, fruits and vegetables, and whole grains, have a higher risk of developing prostate cancer than men who do not eat these foods.
Men who are physically inactive are more likely to develop prostate cancer. Case in point: a study published in November 2009 reported that men who regularly engaged in moderate exercise appeared to have a lower risk of developing prostate cancer. (Antonelli 2009)
Exposure to Chemicals
Studies show that men who work in certain occupations (e.g., tire plant workers, farmers, painters) are more likely to get prostate cancer. This is believed to be related to their exposure to chemicals. A 2009 study, for example, found a twofold increased risk of prostate cancer among farmers who were exposed to pesticides compared with farmers who were not exposed. (Parent 2009) It’s also been estimated that 90 percent of people in the United States have detectable levels of BPA toxin in their bodies. BPA has been associated with various health problems, including an increased risk of cancer, including prostate cancer.
Some research has indicated that elevated levels of the male hormone testosterone may be a risk factor, as this hormone encourages prostate growth. You may have heard or read stories about how body builders and other men who take testosterone injections or supplements may be at increased risk for the disease. However, while testosterone has a major role in prostate cancer, it is an imbalance of hormones—including testosterone—and not the hormone alone that is of the most concern. In fact, estrogen is the actual culprit when it comes to increased prostate cancer risk, not testosterone.
The presence of inflammation as a risk factor is a relatively new theory. Inflammation may contribute to the development of prostate cancer by damaging cellular DNA and encouraging normal prostate cells to become cancerous. (American Cancer Society) In fact, an increasing amount of research points to the major role inflammation plays not only in prostate cancer but other serious diseases as well.
Most health experts agree that obesity is linked to prostate cancer and can have an impact in several areas, yet they are not sure why this is so. Some possible reasons are that obese men tend to have lower testosterone levels, higher (or relatively so) estrogen levels, elevated levels of insulin-growth factor (which might spur the cancer on), and greater amounts of saturated fats in their diet (which can encourage cancer growth). Men who are overweight also are more likely to have type 2 diabetes or metabolic syndrome, both of which may be associated with prostate cancer.
Calcium and other additives
Several prestigious research organizations, namely the World Cancer Research Fund and the American Institute for Cancer Research, found that consuming too much calcium in foods and/or supplements is one of the probable risk factors for prostate cancer. (Itsiopoulos 2009).