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Prostate cancer is the second most common form of cancer in American men; only skin cancer is more common than it. On an average, over 200,000 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer each year, and almost one in every six men will be diagnosed with the disease during their lifetime. However, of the one in six men who will be diagnosed with prostate cancer, only one in thirty-four will die from the disease. Actually, death rates from prostate cancer are declining because of earlier detection and the availability of better treatment methods. Prostate cancer is usually a slow growing form of cancer, and some men may have it for many years, but not die from it.
Although researchers have not discovered exactly what causes prostate cancer, there are some risk factors that are known to increase a man’s likelihood of developing this disease, such as age, race, heredity, diet and obesity.
Two thirds of men who are diagnosed with prostate cancer are over the age of 65. If a man is between 65 and 75 years old, his chances of getting prostate cancer are more than 30%, and of the percent diagnosed, almost 20% die from it. A man has a better chance of surviving prostate cancer if it is diagnosed when he is under the age of 65.
Race plays a big part in the rates of getting and dying from prostate cancer. Although the reason is not fully understood, African-American are at a greater risk for prostate cancer than Caucasian men, and of those diagnosed, African-American men are twice as likely to die of the disease than other races. Hispanics and Caucasians have about the same risk of getting the disease, and Asian and Native American men have the lowest risk for developing it.
Heredity places a large part in the risk of getting prostate cancer. If a man has a grandfather, father, or brother who has gotten prostate cancer, he has a greater chance of getting it. There are studies which have identified genes that are under suspicion of causing prostate cancer called Hereditary Prostate Cancer Genes 1, 2, and X (HPC1, HPC2, and HPCX).
When a man’s diet is high in saturated fats and low in fruits and vegetables his risk of developing prostate cancer is increased. However, a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, high in anti-oxidants and low in saturated fats is recommended by doctors to reduce a man’s risk. Obesity has also been linked to prostate cancer, but this is believed to be a result of the increased hormone production present in obese men, which can cause prostate cancer.
Some of these risk factors are impossible to change, like age, race, and heredity. But men can lower their risk of getting prostate cancer if they pay attention to their diet, and avoid being obese.
Some foods that are believed to be important in decreasing the risk of prostate cancer include: soy, tomatoes, spinach, broccoli, carrots, cantaloupe and, in particular, foods which contain selenium. Foods containing selenium are brazil nuts, light tuna, cod, turkey and grains (oatmeal, whole-wheat bread, and brown rice). Eating certain fish is a very good choice because they contain alpha omega-3 fatty acid which is thought to lessen the risk of cancer. Some of the fish containing the most alpha omega-3 fatty acids are salmon, mackerel and herring.
Regular doctor visits and tests are very important because the earlier prostate cancer is detected, the better the chances of treating it and surviving it. This is particularly important for men over fifty, because it is between fifty and sixty-five that most curable cancers are diagnosed.