How to Prevent Prostate Cancer?

Reviewed by: HU Medical Review Board | Last reviewed: October 2017 | Last updated: February 2020

As with most, if not all, types of cancer, there is no certain method of preventing prostate cancer. Many prostate cancer risk factors are non-modifiable, including age, race, and family history. Some risk factors, however, may be controllable, such as obesity, diet, and environmental exposure. Even after managing these factors, the ability to ward off prostate cancer is not guaranteed, but could potentially lower an individual’s risk.

Maintaining a healthy weight

Decreasing an individual’s BMI (body mass index) as well as reducing the extent or presence of obesity may contribute to a decreased risk in developing prostate cancer. Obesity has been linked to the development of more aggressive forms of prostate cancer, which is why maintaining a healthy weight may decrease its risk, as well as provide many other health benefits. Eating a healthy diet (discussed in the next section) and participating in adequate and safe levels of physical activity can help shed extra pounds.

Many guidelines report that around 150 minutes a week of moderate intensity exercise is a healthy exercise routine, however, it’s important to talk with your doctor before participating in any rigorous activity. Many specialists, as well as your primary care provider will be able to establish healthy and safe activity goals for your body and situation. You can also reduce obesity by limiting sedentary behaviors like lying down, watching TV, and limiting other screen time on phones and computers.1,2

Eat a healthy and balanced diet

The way we fuel our body is a strong predictor of how strong and resilient we can be. Eating a healthy and balanced diet can reduce our risk of infection, as well as provide us with the energy we need to get through the day. Similarly, healthfully nourishing our bodies could also decrease our risk of developing prostate cancer. Specifically, increasing fruit and vegetable intake to at least 2.5 cups a day, limiting processed food and alcohol, and swapping whole grains into our diet in place of refined grains are excellent steps to take. Additionally, reducing the intake of fats and dairy products may also decrease the risk of developing prostate cancer. Animal fats like butter, lard, and red meat can be swapped for plant-based fats like olive oil, fish, seeds, and nuts. Further, although reducing dairy products in general may be the best in terms of reducing risk, full-fat dairy products can also be replaced by reduced-fat or no-fat dairy options.

While certain vitamins and minerals are beneficial, there is much research ongoing that suggests that high amounts of calcium, vitamin E, and selenium may actually increase the risk of prostate cancer. Talking with your provider about your specific dietary needs and situation may help determine what vitamins or supplements, if any, are right for you.1-6

Medications to reduce risk

Conclusive evidence has not been found on any medications definitively reducing the risk of prostate cancer, however, some research has pointed towards potential risk-reducing treatment options. It is important to note that much more research needs to be completed on this, and several clinical trials are currently underway to strengthen these ideas. The concept of medications reducing the risk of prostate cancer refers mainly to 5-alpha reductase inhibitors like finasteride (Proscar) and dutasteride (Avodart), as well as to daily aspirin. For each of these medication classes, more information needs to be obtained to determine if the risk of side effects and cost of taking these medications outweigh their potential and inconclusive risk-reducing benefit.1,7,8

Reducing exposure to other potential carcinogens

A carcinogen is a substance that causes cancer. Reducing your exposure to potential or known carcinogens may decrease your risk of developing prostate cancer. Several carcinogens that may be avoidable are cigarette smoke, unnecessary radiation, environmental pollutants, and other dangerous chemicals, such as Agent Orange.

It is important to note that this is not an exhaustive list of all ways to reduce the risk of developing prostate cancer, and as mentioned earlier, following common prostate cancer prevention tips does not guarantee an individual’s ability to avoid the condition. A primary care provider or a prostate cancer specialist can help determine further specific case-by-case factors that may reduce overall risk.

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