Early detection is key to giving men a fighting chance against prostate cancer. All men are at risk for prostate cancer but there are various factors that could increase your risk of being diagnosed with the disease. Take the “Am I At Risk?” quiz to learn more about these risk factors.
Your Risk for Prostate Cancer
The greatest risk factors for developing prostate cancer are increasing age, family history, ethnicity, and diet. Do any of the following describe you?
- I am older than 50
- I have a family history of prostate cancer
- I am Black or African-American
If you answered yes to any of these, then you may be at higher risk of prostate cancer. However, not having any of these risk factors does not mean you are immune. All men are at risk for prostate cancer. Keep reading to learn more about your risk and what steps you can take.
The risk of prostate cancer grows significantly as men grow older. ZERO, as well as the National Comprehensive Cancer Network, recommends that men should start discussing prostate cancer risk and testing options with their doctors in their 40s, or even earlier if they have additional risk factors. The vast majority of men with prostate cancer are over 50, and a significant majority are over the age of 65. However, there are cases of prostate cancer in men in their 20s and 30s, some of which have been very aggressive.
A man with at least one close relative who has had prostate cancer has twice the risk of having the disease compared to the general population. Certain genes and gene mutations that put a man at higher risk for developing prostate cancer have been identified (BRCA 1, BRCA 2, DNA mismatch repair genes, and others). It is estimated that inherited gene changes – those passed down by parents – account for approximately 10% of prostate cancers. Learn more about genes, genetic testing, and prostate cancer.
Have conversations with your family about your family’s health history and download and complete ZERO’s prostate cancer family tree.
Black men are 1.7 times more likely to get prostate cancer and 2.1 times more likely to die from the disease than white men. Read more about Black men and prostate cancer in the Racial Disparities section of our website.
Watch our video featuring prostate cancer survivor and ZERO’s former Chairman of the Board Robert Ginyard and former ZERO Board Member Dr. Sanford Siegel from Chesapeake Urology discuss African American men and prostate cancer.
Veterans & Chemical Exposure
Exposure to chemicals and defoliants can add to prostate cancer risk and severity. Studies have shown Vietnam and Korean War Veterans with exposure to chemicals like Agent Orange have a higher occurrence of prostate cancer. In fact, Veterans are about twice as likely to be diagnosed with prostate cancer than men who have never served in the military. Read more about Veterans and prostate cancer here.
Farmers and other men who work with large amounts of pesticides can be at increased risk. Those who are frequently exposed to the metal cadmium like welders, battery manufacturers, and rubber workers are abnormally vulnerable to prostate cancer. There is some evidence that firefighters are also at higher risk.
Diet and Health-Related Risk Factors
Obesity may be associated with a slight increase in the risk of getting prostate cancer. The World Health Organization defines obesity and those who are obese as someone with a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or more. There have been a handful of studies that have shown a link between prostate cancer risk or aggressiveness, and obesity.
Being obese and overweight may be related to prostate cancer aggressiveness and development according to a handful of studies. Obesity may increase the long-term disease progression for men with low-risk prostate cancer who are on active surveillance. Discuss diet and weight as risk factors with your doctor.
Regular physical activity has a positive impact on health and prostate cancer. Men who walk one to three hours each week have an 86% lower risk of aggressive prostate cancer. Further research has demonstrated three or more hours of vigorous exercise lowered the risk of prostate cancer death by 61%. Learn more on our Physical Activity and Exercise page.
Changing your lifestyle may seem difficult. Here are some steps to take:
- Take the “Am I at Risk” Quiz at the top of this page
- Talk to your doctor about your risk
- Talk to your family about health history
- Switch to a more plant-based diet
- If a plant-based diet seems like a difficult transition, eat less red meat and instead eat more lean meat like turkey or chicken
- Add more fruits and vegetables to each meal
To learn more about actionable steps you can take related to health, wellness, and nutrition visit our webpage: Health & Wellness in Prostate Cancer.