Prostate Cancer Risk Factors
There is no way to predict whether or not you will develop prostate cancer or any other types of cancer. However, knowing your risk factors can help you and your healthcare team make the best decision regarding when to begin prostate cancer screening.
What Increases Your Risk of Developing Prostate Cancer?
A risk factor is anything that increases your chance of developing cancer. This does not guarantee that you will develop cancer. In fact, you might have several risk factors and never develop cancer. Still, it’s important to know if you have risk factors so you can begin screening to detect cancer at its earliest stage when it can be more effectively treated.
Some risk factors are completely out of your control. With that said, knowing that the following factors put you at greater risk means that you can be proactive and get screened regularly.
Prostate cancer sometimes “runs” in a family. Called familial prostate cancer, it is responsible for about 20% of diagnoses. About 15% of familial prostate cancer may happen because of a shared environment or lifestyle. For example, men who grow up together in a family with a high-fat diet, large amounts of red meat and dairy, and low vegetable/fruit consumption would have a shared, increased risk for prostate cancer. Another example is male relatives who grow up in an extreme northern location and suffer low Vitamin D levels, which could put them at an increased risk for prostate cancer.
A genetic mutation passed on through the family is called hereditary prostate cancer and accounts for roughly 5% of all prostate cancer cases. Having a first-degree relative (father, son, or brother) with prostate cancer increases your risk 2-to-3 times more than someone who doesn’t. Other situations within your family that indicate the possibility of hereditary prostate cancer include:
- Prostate cancer among 3 or more first-degree relatives
- Prostate cancer among 3 generations on the same side of the family
- Prostate cancer diagnosis before the age of 55 of 2 or more close relatives (including grandfathers, uncles, or nephews on the same side of the family)
Hereditary breast and ovarian cancer (HBOC) syndrome
Linked to family history is a chance that a man may have female relatives who had breast or ovarian cancer, or possibly both. Men who have female relatives that test positive for the BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes (BRCA is an abbreviation for Breast Cancer) may have inherited that gene too. In cases such as this, genetic counseling can be a good idea since men who have BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes are at increased risk of aggressive prostate cancer and male breast cancer.
Where You Live
Agent Orange Exposure
Do Lifestyle Factors Increase the Risk for Prostate Cancer?
As with other cancers, your risk of prostate cancer is linked to your lifestyle choices. Avoiding the following things is helpful to lower your risk of both prostate cancer and other cancers and diseases:
- Being overweight or obese
- Smoking and use of other tobacco products
- Eating a diet that’s high in saturated fats, particularly from red meats (beef, pork, and lamb)
Recommendations For Prostate Cancer Screening
At Rocky Mountain Cancer Centers, we encourage you to talk with your doctor about your personal history and family history. Doing so will help him or her determine what screening recommendation would benefit you the most. The American Cancer Society recommends:
- Age 50 for men at average risk.
- Age 45 for men at high risk, including African-Americans and men with a first-degree relative diagnosed with prostate cancer before age 65.
- Age 40 for men at the highest risk. This includes men who have more than one first-degree relative with prostate cancer at a younger age
Increase Fruits & Vegetables
Reduce Red Meats
Consider Vitamin D
Avoid Excessive Calcium