According to the Canadian Cancer Society, 24% of all new cancer cases among Canadian men will be prostate cancer.
The Prostate Cancer Foundation in the United States says that after age 69, the chance of developing prostate cancer becomes more common than any other cancer in men or women.
Both organizations note that men with African and Caribbean ancestry are at higher risk of developing prostate cancer. Age and family history of prostate cancer are two other risk factors that cannot be changed.
However, there are a lot of things that are well within our control that can be done to help minimize our chances of developing prostate cancer.
Prevent prostate cancer through diet and exercise
The Prostate Cancer Foundation notes that Asian men living in Asia have the lowest risk of developing prostate cancer, but when they migrate to North America and northern Europe, their risk actually increases. Many studies suggest that one major reason for this increase is diet.
We all know that a healthy diet and plenty of physical activity are two of the most important things we can do to maintain good health.
Let’s take a look at some of the foods you can incorporate into your diet on a regular basis that may help prevent prostate cancer.
Eat your veggies, especially cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, brussel sprouts, spinach, kale and bok choy.
Cooked tomatoes are an excellent source of lycopene. Lycopene is an important anti-oxidant that is found in significant quantities in tomatoes. Anti-oxidants help to prevent cell damage, which in turn may help prevent prostate cancer. The power of lycopene increases when cooked, so cooked tomatoes, tomato sauces and soups are great to include in your diet.
Note: When using store-bought tomato sauces and other tomato products, be mindful of the amount of sugar they contain.
Good fats and bad fats
Eating more fish and other foods high in essential fatty acids, or “good fats”, can also help improve your overall health and may prevent many illnesses including prostate cancer.
Eating less “bad fat”, especially fat from red meat and dairy products, and avoiding trans fats and saturated fats that are found abundantly in processed foods and packaged goods also helps to prevent prostate cancer.
Excessive alcohol consumption is thought to be a significant risk factor for developing prostate cancer. You should definitely be limiting alcohol to no more than 14 drinks per week. If you are trying to lose weight as discussed in the HEALTH FIRST Program, you should limit alcohol to 7 drinks per week.
Staying physically active is important for a number of reasons, and one important benefit is it’s role in helping to prevent prostate cancer.
Cardiovascular exercise 3 to 4 times per week for 30-45 minutes per session is what you should aim for. I also recommend 5,000-10,000 steps per day, so having a pedometer is very helpful. Remember it’s okay to start small and work your way up to this goal.
For more information about how you can prevent prostate cancer through diet and exercise, take a look at the Prostate Cancer Foundation’s free guide called “Nutrition, Exercise, and Prostate Cancer”.
Talk to your doctor about your risk factors for prostate cancer, and ask about the risks and benefits of screening. They can help you assess your risk factors and discuss whether screening is something you should consider.
For detailed guidance and a step by step plan to help you improve your diet and overall health, you might be interested in my book, HEALTH FIRST: Winning at Weight Loss and Wellness. For years, I have been leading my patients through my Health First program to help them achieve a healthy weight, feel great, and incorporate exercise into their lives.