If you're concerned about your risk of prostate cancer, you may be interested in prostate cancer prevention. Prostate cancer is the most common cancer diagnosed in men. You may have friends or family members who have been diagnosed with prostate cancer, and this may make you wonder about what you can do for prostate cancer prevention.
There's no sure way to prevent prostate cancer. Study results often conflict with each other, and no clear ways to prevent prostate cancer have emerged. In general, doctors recommend that men with an average risk of prostate cancer make choices that benefit their overall health if they're interested in prostate cancer prevention.
Choose a healthy diet
There is some evidence that choosing a healthy diet that's low in fat and full of fruits and vegetables may reduce your risk of prostate cancer, though study results haven't always agreed. If you want to reduce your risk of prostate cancer, consider trying to:
- Choose a low-fat diet. Foods that contain fats include meats, nuts, oils and dairy products, such as milk and cheese. In studies, men who ate the highest amount of fat each day had an increased risk of prostate cancer. While this association doesn't prove that excess fat causes prostate cancer, reducing the amount of fat you eat each day has other proven benefits, such as helping you control your weight and helping your heart. To reduce the amount of fat you eat each day, limit fatty foods or choose low-fat varieties. For instance, reduce the amount of fat you add to foods when cooking, select leaner cuts of meat and choose low-fat or reduced-fat dairy products.
- Eat more fat from plants than from animals. In studies that looked at fat and prostate cancer risk, fats from animals were most likely to be associated with an increased risk of prostate cancer. Animal products that contain fats include meat, lard and butter. When possible, use plant-based fats in place of animal fats. For instance, cook with olive oil rather than butter. Sprinkle nuts or seeds on your salad rather than cheese.
- Increase the amount of fruits and vegetables you eat each day. Fruits and vegetables are full of vitamins and nutrients that are thought to reduce the risk of prostate cancer, though research hasn't proved that any particular nutrient is guaranteed to reduce your risk. Eating more fruits and vegetables also tends to make you have less room for other foods, such as high-fat foods. Increase the amount of fruits and vegetables you eat each day by adding an additional serving of a fruit or vegetable to each meal. Eat fruits and vegetables for snacks.
- Eat fish. Fatty fish — such as salmon, sardines, tuna and trout — contain a fatty acid called omega-3 that has been linked to a reduced risk of prostate cancer. If you don't currently eat fish, try adding it to your diet.
- Reduce the amount of dairy products you eat each day. In studies, men who ate the most dairy products — such as milk, cheese and yogurt — each day had the highest risk of prostate cancer. But study results have been mixed, and the risk associated with dairy products is thought to be small.
- Drink green tea. Studies of men who drink green tea or take green tea extract as a supplement have found a reduced risk of prostate cancer. If you like to drink tea, consider choosing green tea.
- Try adding soy to your diet. Diets that include tofu — a product made from soy beans — have been linked to a reduced risk of prostate cancer. It's thought that the benefit of soy comes from a specific nutrient called isoflavones. Other sources of isoflavones include kidney beans, chickpeas, lentils and peanuts.
- Drink alcohol in moderation, if at all. If you choose to drink alcohol, limit yourself to no more than a drink or two each day. There's no clear evidence that drinking alcohol can affect your risk of prostate cancer, but one study found men who drank several drinks each day over many years had an increased risk.
Maintain a healthy weight
Men with a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or higher are considered obese. Being obese increases your risk of prostate cancer. If you are overweight or obese, work to lose weight. You can do this by reducing the number of calories you eat each day and increasing the amount of exercise you do.
If you have a healthy weight, work to maintain it by exercising most days of the week and choosing a healthy diet that's rich in fruits, vegetables and whole grains.
Exercise most days of the week
Studies of exercise and prostate cancer risk have mostly shown that men who exercise may have a reduced risk of prostate cancer. But not all studies have agreed. Exercise has many other health benefits and may reduce your risk of heart disease and other cancers. Exercise can help you maintain your weight, or it can help you lose weight.
If you don't already exercise, make an appointment with your doctor to ensure it's OK for you to get started. When you begin exercising, go slowly. Add physical activity to your day by parking your car farther away from where you're going, and try taking the stairs instead of the elevator. Aim for 30 minutes of exercise most days of the week.
Talk to your doctor about your risk
Some men have an increased risk of prostate cancer. For those with a very high risk of prostate cancer, there may be other options for risk reduction, such as medications. If you think you have a high risk of prostate cancer, discuss it with your doctor.
Last Updated: 2011-09-23