Healthy Lifestyle May Reduce the Risk of Deadly Prostate Cancer
Prostate cancer is the second most common cancer in men in the United States. In fact, it is estimated that 1 in 9 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in their lifetime.1
It is well known that being overweight and having an unhealthy diet can increase the risk for many types of cancer. Experts also say these same risk factors are linked to aggressive prostate cancer.2,3
Family history, genetics, and prostate cancer risk
Family history and genetics play a big part in the overall risk of developing prostate cancer. But having a family history of prostate cancer does not necessarily mean you will develop the disease. Still, it is important to know if you have a family history of prostate cancer. This information can help your doctor determine your risk of later developing the disease. This may lead to early detection and a better overall outcome.4,5
Having a family history of prostate cancer means that 1 or more of your family members has had the disease. This could mean a brother, a father, or other male relatives. The more members of your family who have had prostate cancer, the greater your risk of developing it yourself.4
What about genetics? What does it mean when someone says your genetics is another risk factor for prostate cancer? Mutations, or changes, in the cells of the prostate can lead to uncontrollable cell growth that can form a tumor. This is what prostate cancer is. In some cases, these mutations are caused by variations in your DNA that were inherited at birth. Knowing if you have any of these variations can also help your doctor assess your risk of prostate cancer.6
Your ancestry can also impact your risk of prostate cancer. This is likely linked to genetics. For example, Black men have a much higher risk of prostate cancer than other ethnic groups. Black men are also more than twice as likely to die from prostate cancer than other groups.4
Lifestyle and genetic risk
Healthy lifestyle choices are sometimes simple. You can work to maintain a healthy weight. And you can choose healthy foods to eat. So, if healthy lifestyle choices can reduce the risk of cancer, can these same choices reduce the chances of developing prostate cancer if you have genetic risk factors?
A recent study examined this question. Unfortunately, researchers did not find evidence that a healthy lifestyle can reduce overall risk of prostate cancer. But they did find that healthy lifestyle choices did reduce the risk of severe, deadly forms of the disease. In fact, the study determined that men with the highest genetic risk who followed a healthy lifestyle were nearly half as likely to develop deadly prostate cancer than men who did not.7
This study is important because it adds to current research supporting the idea that a healthy lifestyle helps prevent cancer. But further research is needed to connect the dots between a healthy lifestyle and prostate cancer risk.7
An important takeaway
Researchers in this latest study stress the importance of knowing your genetic risk for prostate cancer. It is especially important to talk to your doctor about prostate cancer screening if you have:7
- A history of prostate cancer in your family
- A known gene mutation that is linked to prostate cancer
Together, you and your doctor can discuss your risk and potentially detect prostate cancer in the early stages while it is still treatable.
How familiar are you with inherited gene mutations and cancer?