Prostate Cancer: Risk factors

Over 200,000 men are diagnosed with prostate cancer in the United Statues annually, making it the second most common cancer (after skin cancer) and the second leading cause of cancer deaths (after lung cancer) in American men. In the United States, a man’s risk of developing prostate cancer in his lifetime is about one in six.

The biggest risk factor for prostate cancer is age, followed by race, nationality, family history, hormones and obesity.

Age Prostate cancer is rare in men younger than 40, and the frequency increases dramatically over the age of 50. More than 60 percent of prostate cancers are detected in men over 65.

Race Prostate cancer is statistically most prevalent in African-American men, followed by Caucasian men, Asian men, and Latino men.

Nationality Prostate cancer is more common in North America, Western Europe, Australia and the Caribbean. It is less common in Asia, Africa, and South America. Studies are inconclusive as to why. Some researchers believe this has to do with levels of screening; others cite differences in diet and lifestyle.

Family history Prostate cancer tends to run in families, suggesting there may be a genetic connection. Men with a father or brother diagnosed with prostate cancer are twice as likely to develop the disease.

Hormones High levels of testosterone may increase the risk of prostate cancer, or contribute to its development.

Obesity Researchers at the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University Medical Center, have discovered a link between obesity and prostate cancer. This study showed that obese men who had benign prostate biopsies were more likely to have precancerous lesions and were also at greater risk for developing prostate cancer later on. More information can be found here

The American Cancer Society recommends that all cancer patients maintain a healthy weight, eating a variety of healthful foods derived from plants and limit their consumption of high-fat and processed meats.