Prostate cancer is the fourth most common type of cancer in the world and the second most common type of cancer affecting men after lung cancer. Nearly 1.3 million men were suffering from prostate cancer in the year 2018 as per the statistics provided by the World Health Organisation. This cancer accounted for about 13.5% of all cancer cases in men worldwide.
Age is one of the major risk factors for prostate cancer. The highest mortality rate is seen in older men above the age of 65 years. Other non-modifiable risk factors include a family history of prostate cancer and being of African-American descent.
The disease may not show any symptoms in early stages and hence surveillance, especially of the high-risk populations is important.
Men above the age of 50 are recommended to get screened for this type of cancer regularly. Those in other high-risk groups are asked to start the screening tests earlier - at the age of 45 or even 40.
Lifestyle and prostate cancer
Though we can’t change genes, the risk can be reduced somewhat by making certain changes in one's lifestyle. Some of the lifestyle factors that are considered to be a risk factor for advanced stage and high-grade prostate cancer include:
- Smoking: Studies suggest that smoking may increase the risk of aggressive prostate cancer (one that spreads quickly) by increasing the levels of circulating steroid hormone levels and exposing the body to carcinogens.
- Diet: Lack of cruciferous vegetables (like broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower) in one's diet has especially been linked to a higher risk of aggressive prostate cancer but not to low-risk prostate cancer. Similarly, high doses of zinc, excessive dairy intake and the intake of grilled meats and saturated fats can increase your risk of prostate cancer as well.
- Obesity: As per a study done by the American Cancer Society, obesity increases the risk of prostate cancer by 20%.
- High calcium levels: Intake of more than 2000mg/day can lead to prostate cancer, as per a study done in the USA.
- Sedentary lifestyle: Little or no physical exercise is also considered to be a risk factor for prostate cancer.
Other potential risk factors
The following have been suggested to be risk factors for prostate cancer but more research into their connection is still needed to confirm these:
Sex: Some researchers say that a higher frequency of sex increases your chances of getting sexually transmitted infections, which, in turn, may put you at risk of prostate cancer. However, as per the Prostate Cancer Foundation, USA, men who have more ejaculations are at a reduced risk of prostate cancer.
Vasectomy: A systemic review and meta-analysis done in 2017 indicated a non-significant risk of prostate cancer after vasectomy. However, a 38-year nationwide cohort study done in Denmark suggested a long-term risk of prostate cancer after vasectomy.
Alcohol consumption: A lot of studies show no link between low or moderate alcohol intake and prostate cancer risk. Some other studies suggest the opposite though. Also, alcohol intake after diagnosis of this cancer is suggested to increase mortality.
For more information, read our article on Prostate cancer.
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