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Prostate Cancer

Most scientists agree that these things affect the risk of prostate cancer. Some may apply to you, but others may not.

Age

The risk of prostate cancer goes up with age. Most cases are diagnosed in men over the age of 50.

Height

Tall men have a higher risk of prostate cancer. Researchers don’t know exactly why, but it may be related to the fact that tall people grow more. Some of the same hormones and other factors that make people grow may also increase the chance that dividing cells become abnormal and turn cancerous.

Animal Fat

Men who eat fewer than five servings a day of animal fat have a lower risk of prostate cancer. Scientists don’t know exactly why, but one reason may be that animal fat in the diet can alter hormone levels and lead to a higher cancer risk.

Foods high in animal fat include red meat (beef, pork, lamb and veal), whole milk and cheese. One serving is about the size of a deck of cards.

Men who eat limited amounts of animal fat may also have lower blood cholesterol levels and a lower risk of heart disease.

Tomatoes

Men who eat one or more servings of tomato-based foods per day have a lower risk of prostate cancer. This is probably because tomatoes have an antioxidant called lycopene. Antioxidants like lycopene are substances that can help repair cell damage and protect cells from becoming cancerous.

Tomato-based foods include tomatoes themselves, spaghetti sauce, salsa and pizza sauce. One serving is about 1⁄2 cup of sauce.

Calcium

While calcium is good for bone health and can help lower the risk of colon cancer, getting too much calcium can increase the risk of prostate cancer. It's not exactly clear why this is, but a very high-calcium diet may lower levels of certain substances in the body that can keep cells from turning cancerous. Try to stay near the national recommendations for calcium: Adults under 50 years old should get 1,000 milligrams a day, and adults 50 and older should get 1,200 milligrams a day.

Family History

Men who have a father or brother with prostate cancer have a higher risk of the disease. This is because some prostate cancer is linked to mutations (changes) in the genetic structure (DNA) of the body’s cells that can be passed from generation to generation.

African-American Ethnicity

African-American men have a higher risk of prostate cancer than other groups of men. In fact, African-American men have the highest rates of prostate cancer in the world. Scientists aren’t sure exactly why, but it may be related to differences in diet and/or hormone levels.

Asian Ethnicity

Asian men have a lower risk of prostate cancer than other groups of men. Researchers aren’t sure exactly why, but it may be related to differences in diet and/or hormone levels.

To assess your risk for prostate cancer and get tips for reducing that risk, visit the Your Disease Risk website.