Prostate cancer is one of the most common types of cancer in men. Since it affects so many men every year, it’s also one of the most researched forms of cancer out there. As such, scientists and research groups have looked at a variety of things that may cause cancer to first develop, as well as ways to improve the health of the prostate in general.
A growing body of research deals with lifestyle choices and their effects on prostate health. At HIFU, we encourage men to make healthy decisions about their lives and offer non-invasive treatment options for prostate cancer. Here’s a brief overview of how your lifestyle may be impacting your prostate.
Alcohol is a regular part of daily life for many men, making it one of the most carefully studied substances out there. When exploring the connection between alcohol intake and prostate cancer, studies have found competing evidence. For example, a 2016 study found that men who drink alcohol regularly might be at greater risk of developing prostate cancer than those who don’t. But this study relied on self-reported data, which isn’t always accurate. A 2018 study showed a link between those who started drinking early in life and developing prostate cancer later. The study also found no link between current alcohol consumption and alcohol risk. Of course, a 2019 study found that the consumption of red wine might actually deter the development of lethal prostate cancer, or at the least, does not exaggerate the risk of developing it.
That said, just because alcohol hasn’t been connected to prostate cancer doesn’t mean you can drink to excess without worry. Too much alcohol comes with a host of other health concerns.
There’s a body of research that suggests that the typical “Western” diet, that’s based around large quantities of red meat, can increase an individual’s risk for developing prostate cancer. But these studies did not draw a clear “cause and effect” relationship between this diet and the risk of cancer.
However, other research has found that a healthy, plant-based diet can be used as part of an effective medical treatment plan. The MEAL (Men’s Eating and Living) study focused on changing the diets of men with small tumors. Their diets were framed around fruits, vegetables, beans, whole grains, and legumes. Diets rich in carbohydrates and lower in fats and proteins are associated with a decreased risk of prostate cancer.
Generally speaking, the more active an individual, the greater their overall health. Physical activity plays a vital part in both preventing and managing prostate cancer. A review from 2014 found that men who exercised more and had more active lifestyles had better prostate cancer survival rates than those who did not. Moreover, men who exercise even a little bit over the course of the (essentially one to three hours of walking each week) have an 86% lower risk of developing aggressive prostate cancer.
When it comes to exercise, the more you can do the better. Greater intensity exercises are better for your body, but even less strenuous exercise can still have benefits. It’s recommended by the American College of Sports Medicine that adult men participate in at least two-and-a-half hours of moderate-intensity exercise per week, strength training two to three times a week, and agility and balance exercises another two to three days a week. If you’re new to exercise, it’s a good idea to talk to your doctor to develop an exercise plan that’s tailored to your needs..
The literature about the negative effects of smoking on your body is extensive and exhaustive. In addition to raising the risk of heart, lung, and stomach disease, smoking has also been linked to the development of cancers in the bladder and kidneys, which could spread to the prostate. A 2018 study in Australia found that smokers had a much higher risk of having lethal prostate cancer than non-smokers.
Additionally, those who have been diagnosed with, and treated for, prostate cancer in the past are more likely to die from it than non-smokers. That’s because smoking has a negative effect on basically every cell in the human body. While smoking won’t raise the risk of developing low-grade cancer, it can increase your risk of dying from more aggressive forms of prostate cancer.
Several studies have found a connection between sexually transmitted diseases and prostate cancer. Studies in 2009 and 2014 found that the STD trichomoniasis, a parasite passed during unprotected sex, could make prostate cancers more aggressive later. Men who have trichomoniasis had only a slightly higher risk of developing prostate cancer. For those who have prostate cancer and the STD, they were three times more likely to die from cancer.
Positive Lifestyle Changes You Can Make
Fortunately, it’s never too late to make positive lifestyle changes that can lessen your risk of developing prostate cancer. In particular, a focus on a healthier diet and increased exercise have a dramatic effect on your overall quality of life in addition to decreasing your chances. Drinking less and quitting smoking can also improve your health. There’s some evidence to suggest that an increased intake of vitamin D in your diet can help protect against prostate cancer.
Things You Can’t Change
Many consider prostate cancer an age-related disease. While you can take steps to stay healthy as you age, you cannot reverse this process and your chances of getting prostate cancer increase as you do so. Similarly, race and genetics are beyond your control. For instance, if you have an immediate relative who had prostate cancer, like a brother or father, you’re more likely to get the disease.
Explore HIFU Treatments Today
Even the slightest changes to your lifestyle can have a positive impact. If you’ve been diagnosed with prostate cancer, you may be qualified for a HIFU treatment. This non-invasive treatment option uses high-intensity focused ultrasound to eradicate any growths and harmful tissues on the prostate. To find out more, check our list of HIFU doctors, then schedule a consultation.