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Prevent Prostate Cancer With Lifestyle Changes
When it comes to prostate cancer, there are some risk factors men can control and others they can’t. Among the uncontrollable prostate cancer risk factors are age (50 or older), ethnicity (African-American) and genetics or a family history (particularly a first-degree relative). As for prostate cancer risk factors men can control, these include diet and other lifestyle components. Urologist Michael Zaragoza, MD, shares the following in terms of what men can do with regard to controllable factors to help prevent prostate cancer.
Avoid diets high in saturated fat and low in fiber. A diet high in saturated fat and trans fatty acids and low in fiber increases risk of prostate cancer. Therefore, read food labels and stay away from saturated fats and trans fatty acids and replace these “bad” fats with the “good” omega-3 fatty acids found in nuts, seeds and fish.
To help prevent prostate cancer, men should also increase the amount of fiber in their diet and take a fiber supplement if needed. Some examples of high-fiber foods are whole wheat, apples, bananas, beans, and broccoli. In addition to fiber, broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables contain a compound called sulforaphane, which has been shown in some research studies to reduce risk of prostate cancer.
Eat more antioxidant-rich foods. To lower risk of prostate cancer, men should also eat more antioxidant-rich vegetables and fruits such as leafy greens and berries. Some research suggests that lycopene, a compound with antioxidant properties found in tomatoes, offers benefits for lowering risk of prostate cancer. But to get these benefits, the tomatoes must be cooked.
Avoid charred meat. Research suggests that charred meat may have an overall carcinogenic effect. That’s because when meat is grilled it produces chemicals that have been linked to an increased risk of cancer. Therefore, it’s best to avoid grilling meat and use other cooking methods instead.
Check vitamin D levels. Some studies have found an association between vitamin D and a decreased risk of prostate cancer. To make sure you have adequate vitamin D levels, have them checked annually by your primary care doctor, especially if you’re at high risk for prostate cancer. If you need to increase your levels, you can take vitamin D supplements. The usual dosage is 600 IUs per day to correct a vitamin D deficiency. Additionally, 10 minutes of sun exposure per day without sunscreen will help your body produce vitamin D.
Quit smoking and avoid alcohol. These lifestyle factors have been associated with an increased risk of prostate cancer. In the case of alcohol, research suggests red wine is the exception because when consumed in moderation it may help lower risk of prostate cancer. The studies on red wine suggest at least four, five-ounce glasses per week to lower prostate cancer risk.
Exercise regularly and maintain a healthy weight. Obesity has been linked to more aggressive forms of prostate cancer, and engaging in regular exercise and maintaining a healthy weight also supports the immune system, which is important for preventing cancer in general.
In addition to these lifestyle changes, preliminary studies suggest that higher frequency of ejaculation clears the prostate of toxins, which can help lower risk of prostate cancer. Lastly, Dr. Zaragoza says it’s important to follow prostate cancer screening recommendations since early detection is your best protection. Visit Bayhealth.org/Prostate-Cancer for more information and call your primary care physician to schedule a prostate cancer screening.