Whether you’re a man or a woman, odds are you know someone who is currently battling or has died from prostate cancer. In fact, it’s the second most common form of cancer among American men (http://www.cancer.org/cancer/prostatecancer/detailedguide/prostate-cancer-key-statistics). It is estimated there were about 220,800 new prostate cancer cases in 2015 and about 27,540 deaths from the disease.
While it can be serious, a diagnosis of prostate cancer isn’t a death sentence; almost 3 million men in the U.S. who have been diagnosed are still alive today. Still, the therapy may involve surgery including castration, radiation therapy, and hormonal castration — none of which sound appealing.
Therefore, the focus should be on what we can do to prevent this common cancer. Recently an analysis of adherence to lifestyle factors and cancer deaths demonstrated that lifestyle factors reduce the risk of cancer in general and prostate cancer specifically (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27488239).
Several recent studies have identified lifestyle strategies — some of which are actually fun — that can help prevent prostate cancer and its growth. It’s important to take note of these lessons:
1. Eliminate dairy: Earlier this year, news headlines lit up when a study found a relationship between high dairy intake and an increased risk of prostate cancer (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25527754). It’s unclear yet whether it’s the casein protein, the insulin-like growth factor 1, the hormones and antibiotics found in many dairy products, or other unknown factors. But for now, consider switching out your dairy to “mylk” substitutes, like almond or cashew milk — it’s a manly option.
2. Take a daily aspirin: Last year, a daily low-dose aspirin was given a recommendation by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force for the prevention of colorectal cancer (http://www.uspreventiveservicestaskforce.org/Page/Document/draft-recommendation-statement/aspirin-to-prevent-cardiovascular-disease-and-cancer). Additionally, research supports the notion that the same aspirin also lowers the risk of developing prostate cancer (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24687637).
3. Eat a nutritious, plant-based diet: In one study, a combination of dried broccoli, curcumin, green tea, and pomegranates was tested in men with prostate disease (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24614693). The researchers found that the rise in biomarkers for prostate cancer was far lower with this plant-based combination compared to a placebo. So it’d be wise to consider eating and drinking these foods in their whole form.
4. Regularly ejaculate: A study analyzed by Harvard researchers correlated the frequency of ejaculation with prostate health. They observed that the lowest rates of prostate cancer were found in those who ejaculated often — specifically, more than 21 times a month (http://www.medicaldaily.com/frequent-ejaculation-may-reduce-prostate-cancer-risk-how-orgasm-protects-against-334018).
5. Avoid meat: The importance of diet in preventing prostate cancer was highlighted in a study showing that a vegan diet was associated with a lower risk of prostate cancer (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26561618). The World Health Organization declared in late October, 2015 that processed red meat was a class 1 carcinogen, meaning consuming it leads to an increased risk of prostate cancer (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26514947).
Prostate cancer rates are rising in younger men, and the black population is at high risk. Since the consequences of the treatment for prostate cancer can be quite onerous — including impotence and incontinence — prevention should be key. Although there are, of course, other factors at play, the steps outlined here will help set you on the path to a healthy prostate for life.