Prostate cancer is the second most common cancer in men in the U.S. and the second leading cause of cancer death in men. About one in eight men is diagnosed in their lifetime.
There is no 100 percent-effective method for preventing prostate cancer, but there are some things you can do to support good prostate health and lower your risk.
Studies show that sleep patterns may play a role in prostate cancer risk. An Icelandic study reported that older men who had a hard time falling and staying asleep had a significantly higher risk of prostate cancer, and a U.S. study found that men who sleep between three and five hours a night and men who slept six hours had a significantly higher risk (64 percent and 28 percent, respectively) of fatal prostate cancer than men who slept seven hours.
Another U.S. study found a 30 percent reduced risk in men who slept more than ten hours a night compared to those who slept eight. Researchers are not sure what causes this correlation, but it may have something to do with melatonin, which has potential anti-cancer capabilities.
One study showed that Argentinian men who ate a proinflammatory diet had an increased risk of prostate cancer, especially if they had obesity. Comparable studies were completed in Italy, Jamaica, and France and had similar results. Traditional diets of fatty red meats, starchy vegetables, and added sugars tripled the risk, and diets high in carbohydrates, sugars, and sweets doubled it.
Inflammation likely contributes to prostate cancer, and an anti-inflammatory diet consisting of lean proteins, antioxidants, and healthy fats can help reduce inflammation and cancer risk.
There also appears to be a link between vitamin D and prostate health. Research indicates that men with the lowest vitamin D levels have the highest risks of prostate cancer. Men with prostate cancer who have healthy levels of vitamin D have less aggressive cancers and are less likely to die from the disease.
More research is needed to understand how to apply this information to prevention and treatment, but doctors recommend getting vitamin D from food instead of supplements or the sun. Try fatty fish and fortified milk and cereals, and only use supplements as needed.
Exercise has some direct benefits for prostate health. Studies show that physically active men are less likely to have an enlarged prostate, and both aerobic and non-aerobic exercise can help prostatitis.
Men with prostate cancer can benefit from exercise, too. In one study, men with early-stage prostate cancer who took a brisk walk for at least three hours weekly were 57 percent less likely to have the cancer progress. Men who engaged in vigorous activity for at least three hours a week had a 61 percent lower chance of dying from the disease. High-intensity interval training also seems to slow prostate cancer growth.
Studies show that diets high in fiber, particularly insoluble fiber, were inversely related to rates of prostate cancer. On the other hand, very low fiber intake is associated with a higher risk of prostate cancer.
Other studies showed total fiber, soluble fiber, and insoluble fiber all have inverse relationships with prostate cancer aggressiveness. In other words, the more fiber men ate, the less aggressive their cancer was.
A well-balanced diet is crucial to good health, and although researchers have found no association between fruit intake and prostate cancer risk, high consumption of vegetables is shown to reduce risk.
Multiple studies show that cruciferous vegetables are especially beneficial and may even help stall prostate cancer progression. Cruciferous vegetables include broccoli, cauliflower, collard greens, kale, radishes, and turnips.
Weight affects prostate health in a few ways. Excess fat, particularly excess abdominal fat, causes low-level chronic inflammation. Inflammation causes many issues in the body, and can lead to both increased prostate cancer cell growth and decreased cancer cell death.
Weight management is a first-line strategy to reduce the risk of getting prostate cancer.
A study in 2014 suggested that high coffee consumption of more than four or five cups a day could reduce the risk of getting prostate cancer and decrease fatality. This idea was revisted in later studies with similar results, reporting that the reduction in prostate cancer risk dropped by about one percent for each cup of coffee per day.
Further research is needed to determine what coffee compounds are having this effect and the specific quantities that are beneficial.
The relationship between deep breathing, meditation, and prostate health is complex. Mediation affects the sympathetic nervous system, which controls blood pressure, heart rate, and digestion, among other things.
One study showed noradrenaline, a hormone regulated by the sympathetic nervous system, may have a role in regulating late-stage prostate cancer. Another indicated that nerves from the sympathetic nervous system might regulate the early phases of tumor development. While the relationship requires more study, deep breathing and meditation can keep the sympathetic nervous system from being aroused, which seems to support good prostate health.
Regular prostate screenings are essential for catching prostate cancer early.
Most men should get yearly screenings after age 55, but for those who have the highest risk (African American men, men who have a father or brother with prostate cancer, and men who have two extended family members with prostate cancer), doctors may recommend starting screenings as early as age 40.
This site offers information designed for educational purposes only. You should not rely on any information on this site as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, treatment, or as a substitute for, professional counseling care, advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have any concerns or questions about your health, you should always consult with a physician or other healthcare professional.