In recognition of Prostate Cancer Awareness Month, Dr. Alfred C. Winkler, chief of urology at NewYork-Presbyterian Brooklyn Methodist Hospital and assistant professor of clinical urology at Weill Cornell Medicine, offers tips on what men need to know about prostate cancer, which is the most common cancer in American men after skin cancer, according to the American Cancer Society.
“Older men are most likely to develop prostate cancer, but race, family history, physical health, and lifestyle also play a role in who is at risk,” says Dr. Winker. “Following healthy dietary guidelines, making simple lifestyle changes and getting recommended screenings can reduce the risk of prostate cancer, but men in high-risk groups should be under a physician’s care.”
Here are Dr. Winkler’s tips:
• Maintain a healthy weight. Studies have shown that obesity—a BMI greater than 30—is a risk factor for many medical conditions, including prostate cancer. Reduce the risk by eating a well-balanced diet, limiting the consumption of fatty foods, exercising and and maintaining a healthy weight.
• Eat less red meat: Heavy consumption of red meat has been associated with PhIP, a chemical compound released when red meat is charred, which may increase the risk of prostate cancer. By eating red meat only on special occasions, you can reduce your risk.
• Add more vegetables to your diet: Green, leafy vegetables, such as spinach, kale and broccoli, contain vitamins and antioxidants that keep your prostate healthy.
• Know your risk and get tested. According to the CDC, screening recommendations for prostate cancer differ for men in high-risk or average-risk groups. Those at greatest risk include African Americans, people of Scandinavian descent, and anyone who has two or more family members who were diagnosed with prostate cancer. Members of high-risk groups should consider getting screened for prostate cancer starting at age 40. Men who are at normal risk are encouraged to consider screenings starting at age 55.
• If you are at high risk: African American men have the highest risk of developing prostate cancer and twice the risk of dying from the disease. Men with a father or brother who had prostate cancer are twice as likely to develop the disease, and the risk escalates if the relative was diagnosed before the age of 55. If you are in a high-risk group, speak to your physician about the risks and benefits of yearly rectal exams and PSA tests.
• Get regular exercise: Exercise has a preventive effect on many conditions that affect prostate health. Even 30 minutes of moderate activity each day, like a brisk walk or jog, can have far-reaching health benefits.
• Drink water: Drinking water can help keep your prostate healthy and has many health benefits. Drink at least eight glasses of water every day, and consume water during and after exercise.
• Manage stress. Although stress may not directly cause prostate issues, long-term stress can weaken the immune system, alter your hormonal balance, and make you more susceptible to disease. Meditation is a great way to forget about daily pressures and can also help improve your mental health.
• Stop smoking. Smoking contributes to some of the leading causes of death in men. The carbon monoxide in tobacco attaches to red blood cells until the cell dies, which can cause prostate cancer and other diseases. If you’re a smoker, talk to your doctor about the best plan to quit.