7 Ways to Help Prevent Prostate Cancer

Based on the findings of more than 200 studies conducted over nearly 20 years, these 7 steps are completely doable actions you can take to not only help prevent prostate cancer, the disease that will strike every 1 in 9 men, but also improve your overall health.

1. Prevent prostate cancer: diet

Your food choices play a significant role in the development of cancer, including prostate cancer. Many dietary recommendations are involved in this one suggestion. For example:

  • Maximize your intake of fresh (organic when possible) fruits and vegetables, which typically contain high levels of anti-inflammatory and anticancer substances.
  • Focus on healthy fats, such as monounsaturated and omega-3 fatty acids rather than saturated and trans fats. Monounsaturated fats are in olives and olive oil while omega-3 fatty acids are found in cold water fatty fish (e.g., salmon, tuna, herring, oysters, sardines), flaxseeds, chia seeds, walnuts, and soybeans.
  • Choose whole foods, which don’t contain preservatives, artificial colors or flavorings, or other chemicals.
  • Choose plant protein rather than animal protein. Plant protein provides all of the nutrition you need to support and maintain your prostate health. Protein is found in vegetables, soybeans, legumes, some grains (e.g., amaranth, quinoa), nuts, and seeds. Ease these foods into your menu.

2. Prevent prostate cancer: beware of supplements

Some nutritional and herbal supplements can be helpful for the prostate, such as saw palmetto and stinging nettle. Yet men need to be aware of the dangers associated with a few common supplements. Calcium supplements, for example, have been associated with an increased risk of advanced prostate cancer. Vitamin E supplements also are not recommended, as they’ve been shown to increase the risk of the disease among healthy men. Use of selenium supplements also have been associated with an increased risk of dying of prostate cancer among men with nonmetastatic disease.

3. Prevent prostate cancer: manage stress

Although stress may not have a direct impact on cancer development, chronic stress can weaken the immune system, cause fluctuations in hormonal balance, and make you more susceptible to disease. Stress reduction can include a wide range of activities, such as regular exercise (which has been shown to slow the spread of prostate cancer), tai chi, deep breathing, meditation, yoga, massage, reflexology, and progressive relaxation, among others.

4. Prevent prostate cancer: drink green tea

Green tea contains catechins, substances shown to help prevent the growth of cancer cells and encourage them to self-destruct (apoptosis). Catechins also can interrupt the actions of enzymes that promote the spread of cancer.

In 2017, a systematic review and meta-analysis found that higher (more than 7 cups daily) consumption of green tea was associated with a reduced risk of prostate cancer. This study was significant because it was the first meta-analysis of green tea catechins and the incidence of prostate cancer.

5. Prevent prostate cancer: stay hydrated

Drink enough water. Sounds simple, right? Yet it’s so easy to become dehydrated and not even realize it. Do it often and the effects can be cumulative. Staying properly hydrated can support prostate health and thus be a player in the prevention of prostate cancer.

6. Prevent prostate cancer: watch your weight

Research has shown that being overweight is associated with a greater risk of prostate cancer as well as a lower survival rate. One example comes from the International Journal of Cancer in 2017 in which the authors found strong associations between weight gain and metabolic changes and prostate cancer progression.

In fact, many studies have pointed to the relationship between weight (especially abdominal weight) and progression of prostate cancer. Scientists have been trying to understand the reason for this relationship, including an increase in the estrogen-to-androgen ratio and enhancement of inflammation, which in turn contributes to conditions favorable to prostate cancer. This is an area that requires much more research.

7. Prevent prostate cancer: avoid toxins

Preservatives, pesticides, and other toxins have become a part of everyday life. They have infiltrated our food, water, air, clothing, furniture, cleaning products, personal care items, and more. These substances are taking a toll on your health, including your prostate. The best preventive measure is to choose all-natural products, including organic foods, untreated furniture, chemical-free health and cleaning products, and pesticide-free garden and pest control.

Bottom line

Men need to be aware of the daily steps they can take to help prevent the development of prostate cancer. The suggestions provided here are also relevant for men who may already have been diagnosed with the disease to help ward off spread of the disease and improve quality of life.

References

Dickerman BA et al. Weight change, obesity, and risk of prostate cancer progression among men with clinically localized prostate cancer. International Journal of Cancer 2017 Sep 1; 141(5): 933-44

Esser KA et al. Physical activity reduces prostate carcinogenesis in a transgenic model. Prostate 2009 Sep 15; 69(3): 1372-77

Guo Y et al. Green tea and the risk of prostate cancer: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Medicine (Baltimore) 2017 Mar; 96(13): e6426

Jian L et al. Protective effect of green tea against prostate cancer: a case-control study in southeast China. International Journal of Cancer 2004 Jan 1; 108(1): 130-35

Kenfield SA et al. Selenium supplementation and prostate cancer mortality. Journal of the National Cancer Institute 2014 Dec 12; 107(1): 360

Klein EA et al. Vitamin E and the risk of prostate cancer: the Selenium and Vitamin E Cancer Prevention Trial (SELECT). JAMA 2011 Oct 12; 306(14): 1549-56

World Health Organization. Q&A on the carcinogenicity of consumption of red meat and processed meat. 2015 October

What Does It Mean to Have Prostate Cancer?

If you have heard the words “You have prostate cancer” from your doctor, many thoughts and questions probably ran through your mind.

  • Why me?
  • What exactly is prostate cancer?
  • How bad is it?
  • Do I need treatment and if so, what are the options?
  • Will I be able to work? Have sex?
  • Am I going to die?

It would take volumes to answer these questions. However, here are some thoughts on each of them that can serve as launching points for further discussion between you and your physician and family.

Why me?

This is a common question regardless of what disease someone develops. Check out these statistics and see where you fit into the picture.

  • Prostate cancer affects 1 out of every nine men during their lifetime.
  • In 2019, an estimated 174,650 new cases of the disease will be diagnosed in American men, and about 31,620 men will die of the disease, according to the American Cancer Society.
  • Prostate cancer is rare among men younger than 40, as the average age at the time of diagnosis is about 66
  • Sixty percent of cases occur in men aged 65 or older.
  • Older age is a main factor in the development of the disease.

Why did you get prostate cancer? That’s difficult to say. Genetics and ethnicity play a role, as the disease is at least 60 percent more common among black men than non-Hispanic white men. Other risk factors include age, location (more frequent in North America, northwestern Europe, Australia, and the Caribbean islands), and family history.

For example, if your father or brother has had prostate cancer, you have twice the risk of developing the disease than do other men without this family history. The risk is slightly higher if your brother rather than your father has had the disease.

A few other risk factors for prostate cancer include:

  • Diet: Research indicates that eating a diet that contains high-fat dairy or red meat may increase a man’s chances of developing prostate cancer.
  • Obesity: The obesity risk seems to operate at two levels. One is that obesity itself is linked to the development of the disease, and another is that it increases a man’s risk of dying of advanced prostate cancer.
  • Agent Orange: Men who were exposed to Agent Orange during the Vietnam War appear to be more prone to develop aggressive prostate cancer. This relationship is still being explored by researchers.

What exactly is prostate cancer?

Prostate cancer is the uncontrolled growth of cells in the prostate gland. When mutations of DNA occur, they can cause the cells in the prostate gland to grow abnormally and out of control. Eventually those cells can develop into a tumor.

How bad is it?

The stage at which prostate cancer is discovered is important because it determines if and how treatment should occur, which treatments are most appropriate for you, and what you can expect along this journey with prostate cancer.

Prostate cancer is generally a slow-growing disease. Currently, nearly 3 million men in the United States alone are living with prostate cancer.

That’s not to say prostate cancer isn’t a very serious disease and doesn’t demand immediate attention. However, the type of attention depends on the stage of cancer, age of the patient, overall health, life expectancy, and the quality of life the patient desires.

Prostate cancer is staged based on the extent of the disease, the PSA level, and Gleason score at the time of diagnosis. The stages are:

  • T0: No evidence of a tumor in the prostate
  • T1: Although a doctor cannot feel changes in the prostate during examination, a tumor may be discovered during surgery or needle biopsy for another prostate problem, such as an enlarged prostate.
  • T2: The tumor is confined to the prostate and is large enough to be felt during a digital rectal exam.
  • T3: The tumor has grown through the prostate on one or both sides of the prostate. It also may have expanded into the seminal vesicles, which are the tubes that transport semen.
  • T4: The tumor has not grown or it has grown into the rectum, pelvic wall, of other nearby structures except the seminal vesicles, external sphincter, or several other areas.

The bottom line is, your doctor should explain to you the extent of the disease. To make that determination, clinicians use a range of diagnostic tools, including the PSA, digital rectal exam, prostate biopsy, biomarker tests, PCA3, and transrectal ultrasound test.

Do I need treatment and if so, what are the options?

You and your doctor will work together to determine whether your prostate cancer requires treatment. The choice of treatment, if any, depends on the severity of the disease.

For many men, and especially the majority who show an early, slow-growing cancer, a treatment approach called Active Surveillance is sometimes recommended. This involves regular monitoring of the disease using various tests but no active treatment unless there is progression. Other main options may include:

  • Surgery in the form of prostatectomy (removal of the prostate) for cancer that has not spread beyond the prostate
  • Chemotherapy, the use of drugs for prostate cancer that has spread beyond the gland. It is sometimes used along with hormone therapy
  • Hormone therapy, also known as androgen deprivation therapy, for cancer that has spread too far to be cured using surgery or radiation, before radiation to help make treatment more effective, or along with radiation for men at greater risk of cancer returning after treatment
  • Radiation, which may be used as the first treatment for low-grade cancer limited to the prostate, along with hormone therapy for cancer that has spread beyond the prostate, or in advanced cancer to help keep it under control
  • Cryotherapy, or the use of extremely cold temperatures to freeze and kill prostate cancer cells, may be used for early-stage disease. It is sometimes used if cancer has returned after radiation therapy.

Will I be able to work or have sex with prostate cancer?

For the vast majority of men, having prostate cancer does not end their ability to continue working or engaging in sex, although depending on the severity of the disease, they may need to make adjustments in both of these areas. For example, men who undergo chemotherapy may experience side effects from treatment that cause them to lose time at work because of nausea, fatigue, or weakness.

The ability to have sexual intercourse while living with prostate cancer can depend on the treatment. Prostatectomy and radiation, for example, are associated with a significant risk of experiencing erectile dysfunction and urinary incontinence.

However, men who become stressed over their diagnosis, even if they have low-risk disease and are on active surveillance, may experience performance anxiety. Therefore, men with prostate cancer who are concerned about their ability to continue sexual activity should discuss their concerns not only with their partners but with mental health professionals if necessary so they can find ways to continue their sex lives.

Am I going to die?

According to the American Cancer Society, about 1 man in 41 will die of prostate cancer. Once a man has been diagnosed with prostate cancer, the five-year relative survival rate for different types and stages of the disease are as follows. If the five-year relative survival rate for a specific stage of the disease is 90 percent, it means that men with prostate cancer are, on average, about 90 percent as likely as men without the disease to live for at least five years after diagnosis.

  • Localized (no sign of disease outside of the prostate), nearly 100%
  • Regional (cancer has spread to nearby structure or lymph nodes), nearly 100%
  • Distant (cancer has spread to bones, lung, liver, or other distant parts), 30 percent

Even though prostate cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death among American men, most men who have been diagnosed with the disease don’t die from it.

Bottom line

Men who have been diagnosed with prostate cancer need to educate themselves and their families about the disease. Consultation with one or more trusted physicians is recommended, and men should continue to stay abreast of the latest findings and research in the area of prostate cancer and treatment.

Reference

American Cancer Society. Key statistics for prostate cancer

Can Testosterone Replacement Therapy Harm Your Heart?

When men begin to experience signs and symptoms of low testosterone, such as loss of libido, waning muscle strength, encroaching abdominal fat, tiredness, brain fog, and erectile dysfunction, some seek out testosterone replacement therapy (TRT). After all, all those internet, television, and radio ads can’t be wrong, right? Got low T? Replacement therapy can solve your problems and make you feel like a man again.

Although TRT may seem like a great way to boost your T levels, there are some things you should know about testosterone therapy and the heart.

Use of testosterone replacement therapy

Given the high interest among aging men to take testosterone therapy, understanding the risk is important and should be discussed thoroughly between doctors and their patients. In fact, while reported rates of low testosterone among men have been static, prescriptions for TRT have climbed over the past two decades.

This rise in TRT reflects how the hormone is being increasingly prescribed and used for indications outside of the FDA approved reasons. According to the FDA, those reasons are as follows: “Testosterone is FDA-approved as replacement therapy only for men who have low testosterone levels due to disorders of the testicles, pituitary gland, or brain that cause a condition called hypogonadism. Examples of these disorders include failure of the testicles to produce testosterone because of genetic problems, or damage from chemotherapy or infection.”

Testosterone therapy and the heart

According to the findings of a new study from researchers at McGill University in Montreal, men who took testosterone therapy were at an increased risk of mini strokes (TIAs), stroke, or cardiac arrest during the first two years of taking the therapy. Data from about 15,400 British men aged 45 and older who had age-related low testosterone levels were evaluated for the study.

When compared with men who did not take testosterone replacement therapy, those who did had a 21 percent higher risk of cardiovascular events, including stroke, mini-stroke, or heart attack. This increased risk declined after two years of the hormone therapy.

One of the study’s authors, Dr. Christel Renoux, of the departments of epidemiology, biostatistics, and occupational health and the department of neurology and neurosurgery at McGill, explained that the evidence on long-term clinical benefits of using testosterone therapy in healthy men who have “modestly declining levels” of the hormone is limited. “We strongly recommend that clinicians proceed with caution when considering prescribing [testosterone therapy].”

Not all studies say TRT carries a cardiovascular risk. Some research suggests its use is associated with a lower risk of death from any cause, although past evaluations have noted an increased risk.

Between January 1, 1999 and December 31, 2010, for example, more than 44,300 men with androgen deficiency (serum testosterone less than 300 ng/dL) were evaluated. Of these, 8,808 (19.8%) had ever taken TRT and 35,527 (80.2%) had not. At a mean follow-up of 3.4 years, the risk of cardiovascular events was lower in the men who took TRT than those who did not. 

More recently, in a May 2019 article appearing in Nature Reviews Cardiology, the authors noted that the true impact of testosterone replacement therapy on cardiovascular health remains uncertain.

In fact, the experts made the following observations:

  • Some retrospective studies have shown a greater risk of cardiovascular events in men who are taking TRT, and the risk rises early after treatment begins
  • Meta-analyses of randomized, controlled trials have demonstrated conflicting findings, and this is likely due to various causes, including studies that have been too short to adequately evaluate cardiovascular events
  • The first trial (TRAVERSE) that is considered to be properly powered to evaluate cardiovascular findings among men using testosterone replacement therapy was initiated in 2018, and it will be approximately 10 years before the results become available

Until medical professionals have more information about testosterone and the impact on the heart, the authors recommend that physicians make their decisions about prescribing testosterone therapy on a case-by-case basis, especially in light of any personal or family history of cardiovascular problems. Doctors also should thoroughly discuss the risks and benefits of TRT with their patients.

Look for an alternative? Click here to read about how to find natural and effective testosterone supplements.

References

Cheetham TC et al. Association of testosterone replacement with cardiovascular outcomes among men with androgen deficiency. JAMA Internal Medicine 2017 Apr 1; 177(4): 491-99

Food and Drug Administration. FDA drug safety communication: FDA cautions about using testosterone products for low testosterone due to aging; requires labeling change to inform of possible increased risk of heart attack and stroke with use.

Gagliano-Juca T, Basaria S. Testosterone replacement therapy and cardiovascular risk. Nature Reviews Cardiology 2019; 16: 555-74

Loo SY et al. Cardiovascular and cerebrovascular safety of testosterone replacement therapy among aging men with low testosterone levels: a cohort study. American Journal of Medicine 2019 Apr 3

The Impact of Testosterone on Male Physique & Health

As young males progress through adolescence into young adulthood, they experience the tell-tale signs of hormonal changes. Testosterone’s impact on male physique and other characteristics becomes quite evident: growth of body hair, deepening voice, maturation of the penis and testicles, increased muscle mass, and quickening libido, among others.

During those early years, testosterone levels are peaking, but as the saying goes, what goes up must come down. Around age 30, testosterone levels begin a slow and gradual decline, approximately 1 percent per year. That decline has varying effects on a man’s physique, depending on a number of factors.

Testosterone impacts male physique: what gives?

As guys get older and T levels decline, the impact of the hormone on male physique changes. A small amount of circulating testosterone transforms into a form of estrogen called estradiol. As T levels decline, men also produce less estradiol. Therefore, changes and symptoms experienced by men who have falling testosterone levels may be partly or entirely due to the drop in estradiol levels.

Of course, testosterone levels in any given man may be low, within normal range, or high. Although there are guidelines physicians and patients follow to help them determine where a guy falls on the T spectrum, testosterone levels are highly individual, as are each man’s response to them. Here we are concerned with the two extremes, and this is how low and high testosterone levels may affect you.

Low testosterone

Perhaps you are already experiencing some of the symptoms that are commonly associated with low testosterone: lack of sex drive, erectile dysfunction, loss of muscle tone and mass, accumulation of body fat (especially around the abdomen), hair loss, mood changes, trouble sleeping, decrease in testicle size, fatigue, bone loss, and mood changes.

All of these changes associated with low testosterone, even those not directly linked to physique, have an impact on a man’s physical, emotional, and mental health. Yet enhancing your testosterone levels naturally is highly recommended over taking testosterone replacement therapy, which is medically recommended only for men who have a medical condition that causes excessively low testosterone levels (hypogonadism).

High testosterone

Men who artificially pump up their testosterone levels by using anabolic steroids, testosterone, or related hormones to improve their athletic performance or muscle mass may experience some significant problems associated with excessive testosterone, such as:

  • Low sperm counts
  • An enlarged prostate
  • Acne or other skin problems
  • Fluid retention (swelling of the feet, ankles and legs)
  • Weight gain
  • High cholesterol and blood pressure
  • Insomnia
  • Increased risk of heart attack
  • Increased muscle mass
  • Headaches
  • Liver disease

However, you also can help boost your testosterone levels naturally by adhering to certain lifestyle modifications, such as following a healthy all-natural diet, exercising and lifting weights (even light ones can help), reducing stress, getting sufficient vitamin D, sleeping at least 7 hours per night (which is when testosterone replenishes itself), and taking natural supplements that may help boost testosterone levels. These approaches are not associated with the side effects found with other ways to raise T levels. 

What the research says

In a study appearing in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, researchers looked at the effect of taking testosterone enanthate (200 mg/week) for six months in13 nonathletic men. Eight healthy men served as controls. Factors considered were bone turnover fat-free mass, bone density, muscle strength, serum testosterone, among others.

Concerning male physique, use of testosterone resulted in an increase in fat-free mass, a decrease in fat mass, changes in muscle strength, and a rise in testosterone levels. The authors concluded that “these changes do not support the use of androgens for enhancing athletic performance.”

Bottom line

It’s well known that testosterone impacts male physique, as demonstrated here. Testosterone’s effect on male health can depend on many factors, ranging from what a man’s “normal” testosterone levels is, to his age, diet, exercise habits , and other lifestyle factors. If you talk to a doctor about symptoms of low testosterone, be sure to ask about the benefits and side effects of any suggested treatment plan and to discuss the impact of lifestyle changes and the use of natural supplements, a combination that can help balance a man’s testosterone levels without the use of medical intervention.

References

Harvard Health Publishing. Testosterone—what it does and doesn’t do. 2015 July

Young NR et al. Body composition and muscle strength in healthy men receiving testosterone enanthate for contraception. Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism 1993 Oct; 77(4): 1028-32