September is national Prostate Cancer Awareness Month. Take this opportunity to learn more about this disease and how to take measures to help prevent it from occurring.
What is Prostate Cancer?
The prostate is a walnut-shaped gland in males located blow the bladder and in front of the rectum. It makes fluid to nourish and protect sperm cells. When cells in the prostate grow beyond their natural lifespan and begin to enlarge and swell, a tumor is created. Tumors are either benign (non cancerous), or malignant (cancerous). Most prostate cancers are very slow to grow, however others can be quite aggressive and spread quickly.
Who is at Risk?
Every 18 minutes an American man dies from prostate cancer. Although all men are at risk for prostate cancer, the biggest risk factors include: increasing age, family history, ethnicity, diet, and obesity.
Age: Prostate cancer risk increases significantly as men age. Most prostate cancer is found in men over the age of 50. Men should consider discussing prostate cancer risk and testing with their physicians in their 40s, and earlier if there are additional risk factors.
Family History: A man with at least one close relative who has had prostate cancer has twice the risk of developing the disease. New research is currently being done to identify possible genes and gene mutations that would place a man at higher risk for developing prostate cancer.
Ethnicity: Men of African-American ancestry are 1.7 times more likely to get prostate cancer and 2.3 times more likely to die from the disease than white men.
Diet: One of the most serious risk factors is diet. Men who eat a large amount of fat (mainly animal fat), have an increased risk of developing prostate cancer. In fact, prostate cancer is more prevalent in countries with a high intake of meat and dairy products, as compared to countries where there is a high consumption rate of vegetables, rice, and soy. Red meats such as beef, pork, and lamb is particularly related to aggressive prostate cancer.
Obesity: Someone with a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or over is considered obese. Many studies have suggested that obesity is linked to the aggressiveness of prostate cancer. Obese men are two times more likely to die from prostate cancer compared to men at a healthy weight, and are four times more likely to have cancer spread beyond the prostate.
Physical activity plays a big role in prostate health for both fighting the disease and preventing recurrence. Physical activity and exercise is proven to improve your physical and emotional health. It can also be key in controlling weight, maintaining muscle and bone strength, and helping with possible side effects of prostate cancer treatment. Research has shown that incorporating 3 or more hours of vigorous exercise weekly, decreased the risk of prostate cancer death by 61%. Furthermore, men who incorporated just 1-3 hours of walking weekly have an 86% lower chance of aggressive prostate cancer.
How to check for prostate cancer:
When detected early, more than 99 percent of men will still be alive after five years. There are basically two types of tests for early detection of prostate cancer: Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) Test, and Digital Rectal Exam (DRE). It is recommended that all men starting at age 45 discuss the risks and benefits of prostate cancer screenings and tests with their personal physician. Some early prostate cancer signs include:
Burning or pain during urination
Difficulty urinating, or trouble starting and stopping while urinating
More frequent urges to urinate at night
Loss of bladder control
Decreased flow or velocity of urine stream
Blood in urine
Blood in semen
Difficulty getting an erection
How can Blue Sky MD Help?
At Blue Sky, MD, we actively manage and assist with the correction of underlying medical complications related to weight. We offer a comprehensive weight management program that focuses on both proper nutrition and hormone replacement therapy. Prior to receiving hormone therapy, we require all male patients to stay current on prostate cancer screenings. We develop relationships with patients and partner with other medical practices and specialties as a lifelong member of a patient’s medical team. Contact one of Blue Sky’s offices today to find out more information and to schedule an appointment.