Risk Factors for Prostate Cancer

A risk factor is something that increases your likelihood of getting a disease or condition.

It is possible to develop prostate cancer with or without the risk factors listed below. However, the more risk factors you have, the greater your likelihood of developing prostate cancer. If you have a number of risk factors, ask your healthcare provider what you can do to reduce your risk.

Factors that increase the risk for prostate cancer:

Age

After 50 years old, the risk of developing prostate cancer increases; for this reason, men over 50 should have an annual PSA test to screen for the development of prostate cancer. The majority of prostate cancers are seen in men over age 65.

Race and Ethnicity

In the United States, African Americans have higher rates of developing prostate cancer. They are also more likely than Caucasian men to die from prostate cancer.

High-fat Diet

Good nutrition is essential for health and well-being. Studies have found an association between diets high in fat and an increased risk of prostate cancer.

Lack of Exercise

Living a sedentary lifestyle may put you at greater risk for prostate cancer, while studies have found that exercising regularly may reduce your risk of prostate cancer.

Family History

Having a father or brother with prostate cancer increases your risk of being diagnosed with prostate cancer.

Vasectomy

There is some debate about whether a vasectomy increases your risk for developing prostate cancer. The only studies that have shown an increased risk from a vasectomy have been criticized because of flaws in the experimental design.

Those criticizing the studies feel that men who had undergone vasectomy are perhaps more likely to have prostate cancer only because they see a doctor more often. Other well-conducted studies do not show any relation between a vasectomy and prostate cancer.

References:

American Cancer Society website. Available at: http://www.cancer.org .

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/ .

National Cancer Institute website. Available at: http://www.cancer.gov .



Last reviewed February 2007 by Barbara Harty-Golder, MD, JD

Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.


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