Living North of Columbus Ohio Increases Risk of Prostate Cancer
By Stephen Roberts PhD
The male prostate gland, important for reproduction, produces a fluid that, combined with other fluids and sperm cells from the testicles, makes up semen. The prostate muscle also forces the semen into the urethra when it is then ejaculated. The prostate gland, while useful, can also cause significant problems for men later in life.
Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH)
The prostate often enlarges as men age— benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). By the time men re ach 60 years of age 60% of them have BPH. The problem with BPH is that it constricts the urethra and interferes with urination. Many men then have to cope with trouble starting to urinate, dribbling, leaking and having to interrupt sleep to visit the bathroom. BPH is not related to cancer.
If the BPH symptoms become problematic consider speaking to your doctor about treatment. According to the National Cancer Institute there are two treatment options:
Surgery, one form of which involves cutting into the prostate to take pressure off the urethra.
Drugs that work to shrink the size of the prostate or relax muscles that allows urine to pass more easily.
While having an enlarged prostate is troublesome being diagnosed with prostate cancer can be life threatening. In 2012 (the last year data is available) approximately 27,000 men died from prostate cancer in United States.
Medications Can Make Symptoms Worse
According to the Prostate Cancer Foundation (PCF) the prostate cancer rate for men 40 – 59 is 1 in 38 and for men 60 – 69 it is 1 in 14.
Dr. Hannah Weir of the Centers for Disease Control estimates that between 2010 and 2020 the number of new cancer cases will go up approximately 24%, including more prostate cancer cases. This increase is due in large part because of an aging population. The numbers of prostate cancer deaths decrease because it is being treated earlier and we have better treatment options.
When it comes to prevention of prostate cancer, Dr. Carin Hopps, a Urologist who works with ProMedica Genito-Urinary Surgeons has recommendations. First, consuming less fat (fat from meat and dairy is especially important to avoid). Conversely consuming more tomatoes with olive oil appears to have a protective effect. According to PCF cooking the tomatoes with olive oil is beneficial.
Dr. Hopps also feels that the digital rectal exam (DRE) is important— if the doctor finds swelling, hardness or lumps it might indicate cancer. This exam also detects BPH.
The Cleveland Clinic recommends that most men 45-50 should have the DRE and a discussion about the Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) test annually. Higher risk African-Americans and individuals who have a family history of prostate cancer should have these procedures starting at 40.
Be smart— start protecting yourself by having the digital rectal exam.
Risk Factors According to PCF
- Having a brother or father who had the disease.
- Living north of Columbus Ohio which is related to too little sun exposure in the winter.
- Being African American
- Lack of exercise
- Lack of vegetables