Prostate Cancer Awareness Month: Can You Prevent the Big C?
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. The American Cancer Society estimates there will be about 220,800 new prostate cancer cases in 2016 and about 27,540 deaths from the disease.
While it can be serious, a diagnosis of prostate cancer isn’t a death sentence for most and more than 2.9 million men in the U.S. who have been diagnosed are still alive today.
The focus should be on what we can do to prevent this common cancer. To be honest, some of the newest data is quite puzzling. In a prospective analysis of 470,000 healthy subjects in an AARP database, researchers related a scale of healthy lifestyle activities to cancer risk. Those with the greatest adherence to the healthy lifestyle had the lowest cancer incidence except for prostate cancer. In fact, those that self-reported that they were the most attentive to exercise, maintaining an ideal body weight, avoiding smoking, and eating lots of fruits and vegetables actually had a higher rate of prostate cancer than those not scoring as well! The authors recognized study limitations of self-reporting of behaviors and measurement errors. The impressive drop in all other forms of cancer measured still provides strong support to maintain a superior lifestyle.
Prior to this new AARP data, other research studies described five key 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 during this month of prostate cancer awareness.
1. Eliminate dairy.
A few years ago news headlines lit up when a study found a relationship between high dairy intake and an increased risk of prostate cancer. It’s unclear whether it’s the casein protein, the insulin-like growth factor 1, the hormones or the antibiotics found in many dairy products the increase cancer risk. Whatever the exact cause, I would strongly urge a switch from dairy to “mylk” substitutes, like almond or cashew milk, as the most manly option.
2. Take a daily aspirin.
A daily low-dose aspirin was given an endorsement by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force for the prevention of colorectal cancer. Additionally, research supports the notion that the same aspirin also lowers the risk of developing prostate cancer. While one study found that daily aspirin use in men with prostate cancer was associated with a reduced risk of dying, a more recent study left it unclear as only aspirin use before and after diagnosis favorably impacted outcomes.
3. Prostate protective supplement.
In an important study a combination of dried broccoli, curcumin, green tea, and pomegranates was tested in men with prostate disease. The researchers found that the rise in biomarkers for prostate cancer was far lower with this combination compared to a placebo. If you don’t want to take a pill, it would seem wise to eat these foods in their whole form.
4. Regularly ejaculate.
Yes, you read that correctly. Harvard researchers correlated the frequency of ejaculation with prostate health. They discovered that the lowest rates of prostate cancer were found in those who ejaculated often — specifically, more than 21 times a month. That means you better get busy right now.
5. Avoid meat.
Prostate cancer rates are rising in young men and the African-American population is at particular risk. Since the consequences of the treatment for prostate cancer can be quite serious — including impotence and incontinence — prevention should be key. There is much to be learned and some confusing data from recent studies but nonetheless, the steps outlined here can help set you on the path to a healthy prostate for life.