Prostate cancer is one of the most common cancers among Indian men. Learning about the different factors that increase or decrease one’s prostate cancer risk is important, as this helps one gauge their prostate cancer risk and manage it appropriately.
From studies conducted over the years, we have identified a few factors that can increase the risk of prostate cancer. Some risk factors are modifiable, while others are not. Modifiable risk factors are mostly lifestyle-related, i.e., one may alter the risk associated with that factor by making certain changes to their lifestyle. Non-modifiable factors, on the other hand, are those that cannot be controlled, and the risk that comes with these factors cannot be modified.
Increasing age is an important prostate cancer risk factor. As men age, the cells in the prostate gland change and tend to become cancerous. Age is a non-modifiable prostate cancer risk factor.
Prostate cancer is relatively more prevalent among certain ethnicities. Prostate cancer is found to be more common among men of African-American, Latino, Hispanic, and American ethnicities. Prostate cancer is relatively less common among Asians.
Reports suggest that Africans are more likely to succumb to the diseases as compared to men of other ethnicities.
Certain inherited genetic mutations can also serve as a prostate cancer risk factor. Studies have reported that inherited variants of BRCA1, BRCA2, ATM, CAPB, FANCA, HOXB13, HPCX, HPC1, and HPC2 genes are found to increase prostate cancer in men.
The association between BRCA1, BRCA2, ATM, and HOXB13 genetic mutations and prostate cancer risk is well-established; however, more studies are needed to understand how CAPB, FANCA, HPCX, HPC1, and HPC2 genetic mutations increase one’s prostate cancer risk.
Those who have a family history of prostate cancer, with close relatives diagnosed with prostate cancer, have a higher risk of developing prostate cancer. Shared lifestyle, environment, and genetic factors make family history an important prostate cancer risk factor.
Not consuming a healthy and balanced diet is another important prostate cancer risk factor. Consuming red meat, highly processed foods, and sugary foods, which are rich in saturated fats, increases the risk of chronic inflammation in the body, which in turn increases the risk of prostate cancer. This is a modifiable prostate cancer risk factor.
Exposure to certain hazardous chemicals can also increase one’s prostate cancer risk. Many studies have reported that exposure to herbicides, pesticides, aromatic hydrocarbons (monocyclic and polycyclic), bisphenol A (BPA), heavy metals, arsenic, etc. may increase prostate cancer risk in men.
Certain sexually transmitted infections have been found to be a prostate cancer risk factor. STIs like gonorrhea, chlamydia, genital herpes, and HPV infection can increase prostate cancer, especially if they are left untreated.
There is no known way to prevent prostate cancer. This is because we do not know the exact cause of prostate cancer. However, there are certain measures that can lower prostate cancer risk in men. In other words, these measures can increase the chances of prostate cancer prevention.
Regular prostate screening is recommended for individuals over the age of 50. Prostate cancer screening usually involves a PSA (prostate-specific antigen) test and a digital rectal examination (DRE). These tests help in the early detection of prostate cancer.
It is important to note that benign prostate conditions, such as benign prostate hyperplasia (BPH) and prostatitis, may also cause high PSA levels and an enlarged prostate. Therefore, after screening, it is important to see a specialist for a definitive diagnosis.
Obesity leads to chronic inflammation, which, in turn, increases prostate cancer risk. Maintaining a healthy weight through a balanced diet and exercising, on the other hand, is found to reduce one’s prostate cancer risk.
Regular exercise is important to maintain a healthy weight and prevent obesity. Getting 30 minutes of exercise every day has been found to positively impact overall health and reduce the risk of various diseases, including cancer.
Some studies have suggested that alcohol consumption can increase the risk of prostate cancer in men; however, the exact reason for this is not understood yet. The possible reasons include increased testosterone levels, increased oxidative damage, and weakened immunity caused by alcohol consumption. Therefore, refraining from excessive alcohol consumption can increase the possibility of prostate cancer prevention.
Tobacco consists of harmful carcinogens, which can increase the risk of various cancers, including prostate cancer, in men. Quitting smoking can increase the chances of prostate cancer prevention.
Consuming a balanced diet that comprises whole grains, pulses, vegetables, and fruits is important as it helps improve immunity, reduce oxidative stress, promote overall well-being, and eventually lower prostate cancer risk in men.
Those with occupational hazards from harmful chemicals like pesticides, herbicides, heavy metals, and organic solvents should diligently follow the safety guidelines and use appropriate protective equipment to minimize exposure.
Chemoprevention involves the use of specific drugs or supplements to reduce prostate cancer. Chemoprevention is a potential prostate cancer prevention measure among high-risk individuals. Finasteride and dutasteride, which belong to the class of 5-alpha-reductase inhibitors, are currently being recommended in some cases.
It is important to note that not all individuals with prostate cancer risk are eligible for chemoprevention. To understand this preventive measure in detail, one must talk to a specialist.
Learning about different risk factors associated with prostate cancer and following appropriate prostate cancer prevention measures can help men reduce their prostate cancer risk significantly. Having healthy lifestyle habits and undergoing regular screening play a key role in reducing prostate cancer risk in men.