Prostate Cancer - Reducing Your Risk
With nearly 25,000 new cases each year, prostate cancer is a growing problem - but did you know that your diet could go a long way towards prevention? Find out more about the symptoms, risk factors and how a healthy diet can minzimise them.
Prostate Cancer - The Low-down
With a risk of 1 in 14, prostate cancer is the most commonly diagnosed male cancer. There are nearly 25,000 men diagnosed with the disease each year in the U.K.
The prostate gland, as part of the male reproductive system, secretes prostatic fluid - which contributes to the make up of seminal fluid. Prostate cancer develops from cells within the prostate gland, and is a relatively slow developing cancer. This means that symptoms may not show until the disease is in an advanced state.
- Frequent need to urinate
- Difficulty starting urination
- Breaks in urination/Non-continuous flow
- Pain during urination
- Blood in the urine or semen
- Pain in the lower back or pelvis
Most of these physical symptoms are also associated with lesser conditions such as Prostatitis (inflamed prostate), or BHP - Benign Prostatic Hypertrophy (a small increase in the size of the prostate gland that is not cancerous). Screening for prostate cancer is available and is generally done by testing the blood for certain proteins associated with the prostate.
- Diet (Likely to be the biggest factor)
Particularly western diets, which tend to be high in saturated fat.
- High testosterone levels/An imbalance in levels of oestrogen and testosterone
Hormonal treatments, usually administration of oestrogen, can be used to help in this situation.
Risk is lower for younger men - cases in those under 50 are rare. 85% of deaths caused by prostate cancer are in men over 70 years of age.
If a member of your family has prostate cancer, i.e.- your father or brother, the risk of contracting the disease is higher.
The Role of a Healthy Diet
Your diet can go a long way towards helping to prevent prostate cancer...
"There is no certain way to prevent prostate cancer. However...there is some evidence to suggest that diet is a predisposing factor."
- The Prostate Cancer Charity
When looking at diet in conjunction with cancer of the prostate, Saturated Fat is the big evil. Cases of prostate cancer are more common in westernised countries where saturated fat is more prevalent in the day to day diet. Incidences of prostate cancer also rose within eastern countries as they started to become more 'westernised' is also a correlation between the number of cases of prostate cancer and obesity.
Red meat, such as beef, lamb and pork are thought to increase the risk of prostate cancer as they contain a lot of fat. Up to as much as 30-40% in cuts from domesticated farm animals when cooked. Dairy produce has also been linked to prostate cancer because of its saturated fat content.
Overall, it seems that levels of saturated fat in the diet can greatly increase the risk of prostate cancer. Therefore, making sure you have a healthy diet and keeping your intake of fat in check, can help to prevent/decrease the risk of prostate cancer. As an added bonus, reducing your consumption of fat can also decrease the risk of other cancers, as well as diseases such as heart disease and diabetes.
It is also widely accepted that consuming plenty of fruit and vegetables can help to prevent cancers because of the antioxidants they contain. It is recommended that we eat at least 5 portions of fruits and vegetables every day.
- Cut down on red meats, especially processed forms.
- Avoid fatty foods, particularly those high in saturated fat.
- Include plenty of fruit and vegetables in your day to day diet.
- Try to maintain a healthy weight for your height.
Statistics and factual figures obtained from Cancer Research UK.
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