Prostate Cancer: Who’s At Risk?
All men are at an increased risk for prostate cancer but there are certain risk factors that increase one’s chances of getting the disease. One of the most common risk factors is increased age. The older a man is, the higher his likelihood of getting prostate cancer. African descent also increases the chances of getting prostate cancer. African men tend to be diagnosed with prostate cancer at a younger age and are more likely to have an aggressive form of the disease when they are diagnosed. Unfortunately, they are also twice as likely to die from prostate cancer compared to other men. Moreover, a family history of prostate cancer also increases the chances of getting the disease. For instance, having a first degree relative (father, son, or brother) with prostate cancer increases prostate cancer risk. If a man’s relative was diagnosed with prostate cancer before the age of 65, his likelihood of being diagnosed is higher than if his relative developed the disease at an older age.
A small percentage of prostate cancer is linked with genetic mutations, specifically in a gene called BRCA. The BRCA genes help repair DNA damage and when these genes are mutated, correct repair of DNA damage does not occur. Thus, men with a BRCA gene mutation are not only at a higher risk of developing prostate cancer but they are also at higher risk of being diagnosed with a more aggressive form of prostate cancer.
Factors Which Increase the Likelihood of Getting Prostate Cancer
There is strong evidence that being overweight or obese increases the risk of advanced prostate cancer. Various hormones and growth factors are elevated in a state of obesity such as insulin and leptin, which can promote the growth of cancer cells. Additionally, obesity is characterized by low-grade inflammation which may promote cancer development.
There is some evidence that higher intake of dairy products and diets high in calcium may increase prostate cancer risk.
Prostate Cancer Treatment & Stats
In general, the earlier prostate cancer is caught, the more likely it is for a man to get successful treatment. The stage at which cancer is diagnosed, also known as the extent of cancer in the body, plays a large role in determining treatment options and it has a strong influence on survival. When cancer is found only in the part of the body where it originated, it is localized. Regional or distant cancer occurs when it spreads to a different part of the body from where it originated. 72.8% of prostate cancer is diagnosed in the local stage and the 5 year relative survival, which is an estimate of the percentage of patients who would be expected to survive their cancer, is 100.0%. In contrast, 7% of cancer is diagnosed after it has metastasized i.e. spread to a distant site such as the bones. The 5 year relative survival in this case is dramatically lower, at 32.3%.
The outlook after receiving a prostate cancer diagnosis depends on cancer stage and overall health. It is important to note that prostate cancers that are localized and slow growing may never need treatment. In the event that treatment is indicated in the setting of early-stage prostate cancer, local treatments may eradicate the cancer completely so the outlook is good.
Naturopathic Medicine for Prostate Cancer
Naturopathic medicine can play a huge role in supporting those with cancer, especially people with prostate cancer. Several of our naturopathic doctors have additional training in what is known as ‘integrative oncology’. The Society of Integrative Medicine defines integrative oncology as a ‘patient-centered, evidence-informed field of cancer care that utilizes mind and body practices, natural products, and/or lifestyle modifications from different traditions alongside conventional cancer treatments. The goal of integrative oncology is to optimize health, quality of life and clinical outcomes across the cancer care continuum and to empower people to prevent cancer and become active participants before, during, and beyond cancer treatment.’
We support patients’ health with the safe use of naturopathic therapies such as IV therapy, botanical medicine, nutritional supplements, along with diet/lifestyle counseling to support people with cancer.
4 Strategies to Prevent Prostate Cancer
There are various ways to prevent prostate cancer. The following are diet and lifestyle modifications you can implement today to reduce your risk of developing the disease.
Strategy #1: Improve your diet in the following ways:
Eat more vegetables and fruits: include a wide range of produce and try to incorporate as many different colours of veggies/fruit in your diet as possible. Lycopene is an antioxidant that is plentiful in cooked or processed tomato products such as tomato sauce has been shown in research to slow prostate cancer cell growth. Cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli and cauliflower contain a phytonutrient called sulforaphane that may protect against cancer. Consume 1-2 servings from the cruciferous family of vegetables daily, cooked or raw. A serving is ½ cup of vegetables or 1 cup of leafy green vegetables.
Add green tea and organic, unprocessed soy products to your diet: EGCG, an antioxidant in green tea may help to block tumour growth and help high men who are at high risk of prostate cancer to reduce their risk. Studies have shown that isoflavones in soy may help slow the growth/spread of prostate cancer cells along with lowering PSA levels. Consume 1-2 servings of unprocessed or minimally processed soy per day i.e. servings are defined as 1 cup soy milk, ½ cup cooked soy beans or edamame, 1/3 cup of tofu is considered.
Ground flaxseed contains phytonutrients called lignans, which may slow the growth of prostate tumours. It is important to consume ground vs. whole flaxseed for the nutritional benefit and store them in the fridge to preserve freshness. Consume 1-2 tablespoons daily mixed in smoothies, salads, oatmeal, etc
White button mushrooms: regularly incorporating white button mushrooms in the diet has been shown to reduce PSA levels and may help improve anti-cancer immunity.
Avoid consuming charred meat as the process of charring by frying or grilling meats at high temperatures produces cancer-causing compounds.
Strategy #2: Maintain a Healthy Weight
As mentioned above, being overweight or obesity can be a risk factor for developing more aggressive prostate cancer. Even after a prostate cancer diagnosis, gaining weight is linked to reduced longevity and increased risk of prostate cancer recurrence. Thus, losing weight and maintaining a healthy weight as you get older can help reduce your risk of cancer and many other health problems. Using the dietary strategies discussed previously are an important component of an overall plan to achieve and maintain a healthy weight.
Treat exercise as your medicine, because in many ways it is! In addition to helping you achieve and maintain a healthy weight, exercise can reduce inflammation, maintain healthy levels of hormones such as insulin and boost the immune system, all of which help reduce risk of cancer.
Research has shown that vigorous exercises such as jogging, biking, or swimming for at least 3 hours per week improved longevity in men who had prostate cancer compared to exercising less than 1 hour per week. Even exercise as simple as going for a brisk walk for 30 minutes every day can reduce risk of prostate cancer recurrence by 60%.
Adequate Vitamin D levels: most people in North America are deficient in vitamin D due to lack of sunlight in the northern hemisphere. Vitamin D is an important nutrient because it helps protect against prostate cancer and many other conditions.
Researchers found that African-American men with low vitamin D levels had an increased chance of being diagnosed with prostate cancer. What’s more, men with low vitamin D levels were diagnosed with a more aggressive form of prostate cancer. Foods that are rich in Vitamin D include: wild salmon and dried shiitake mushrooms. Supplementation with vitamin D can also be a helpful method to improve your levels if it is recommended by a healthcare provider.
Holistic Prostate Cancer Care in Toronto
For integrative prostate cancer care Toronto residents trust, check out our holistic prostate cancer care program. We’re here to support you in any stage of your healing process.