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Risk factors are anything that affects a person’s chances of getting a disease such as prostate cancer. Some of the most effective predictors of prostate caner are age, race and family history. But just because a person has many risk factors doesn’t mean that they will get cancer. There is ongoing research in the area of prostate cancer risk factors, meanwhile, someone with many risk factors for prostate cancer should alert their physician and get regular tests and check-ups.
Prostate cancer is the most common cancer among U.S. men. About thirty thousand men die of prostate cancer every year, but it is not the leading cause of cancer deaths among men. Lung cancer leads to the death of many more men than prostate cancer every year. The chances of a man’s survival after being diagnosed with prostate cancer are very good, and early detection improves those chances. Knowing the risk factors of prostate cancer increases the chances that a man will go to his doctor and will get the tests necessary to detect the disease.
Age is one of the biggest factors of risk for prostate cancer. Prostate cancer is very rare in men under the age of 40, but the chances of getting the disease increase after the age of 50. Two thirds of prostate cancers diagnosed are found in men over the age of 65.
Race is a factor in prostate cancer. Prostate cancer is more prevalent in African-American men than in men of other races. Also, African-American men are more likely to be diagnosed at a later stage of the disease, and they are twice as likely to die of the disease than white men. Hispanic and Asian men have been found to be less likely than white men to die of prostate cancer. The reason for this disparity in ethnic groups is not clear, but research is ongoing.
Family history can be an indicator of prostate cancer. If a man has a father, grandfather, or brother who has had prostate cancer, he is twice as likely to get the disease. The risk is highest for those men who have had a brother diagnosed with the disease. The greater the number of family members who have gotten prostate cancer, the more likely it is for other members of the family to get the disease.
Diet and obesity seem to play a role in the risk factors for getting prostate cancer. Studies have shown that men whose diets include a lot of red meat and high-fat dairy products are slightly more likely to get the disease, whereas men who eat more fruits and vegetables appear to be slightly less likely to get it. Some studies have also found a correlation between men who have a lot of calcium in their diets from food or vitamin supplements, and the risk of getting prostate cancer, although calcium is not dangerous and can be beneficial to overall good health. Obesity has also been shown to be a risk factor; studies have shown that men who have a high amount of extra body fat are more likely to develop prostate cancer than men with a healthy body weight. Doctors are not yet sure why diet and obesity have this effect.
Other risk factors that are currently being studied include exercise, inflammation of the prostate (prostatitis), sexually transmitted diseases, and vasectomies. Researchers continue to study these areas to find out if they effect a man’s chances of getting prostate cancer, but no conclusive evidence has been found yet.
If a man knows that he has some of these risk factors, he should see his doctor regularly to get screenings for prostate cancer. Getting tests which can diagnose this disease in its early stages can be helpful in treating and eradicating it.