Risk Factors for Prostate Cancer

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Risk factors affect your chances of developing cancer. Each type of cancer has its own risk factors, such as smoking being a risk factor for lung cancer. Smoking is a risk factor you control. Other risk factors provide you no control over development of cancer, such as your age or family history of cancer.

Having risk factors for cancer does not make you a definite recipient of the disease. These are just risks toward the possibility of having the disease, comparing your odds for having cancer to someone with no risk factors. Some people with many risk factors never get cancer at all. Others with no risk factors do get cancer. Risk factors are just a way for you to measure your vulnerability to cancer, so you can make important lifestyle changes and ensure you gain appropriate testing for the disease to find it early.

Prostate Cancer Risk Factors

There are several risk factors for prostate cancer. These include:

  • Your Age
    Rarely do men younger than 40 gain a prostate cancer diagnosis. But beyond age 50, your chance of a prostate cancer diagnosis rapidly rises. Sixty percent of prostate cancer cases occur in men over the age of 65.
  • Race and Ethnicity
    African American and Caribbean men of African descent suffer prostate cancer more often than other men. These men are also twice as likely to die from prostate cancer, versus white men. Men of Asian-American or Hispanic/Latino origins experience prostate cancer less than white men.
  • Geography
    North American, northwest European, Australian and Caribbean Island men experience more prostate cancer than men from other parts of the world.
  • Family History
    Prostate cancer runs in some families, suggesting the possibility of an inherited factor. But the disease still appears in men with no family history more often than men with a family history. Having a brother or father with prostate cancer increases a man’s chances of prostate cancer by more than double.
  • Genetic Changes
    Some gene changes raise risk for prostate cancer, such as Lynch syndrome.
  • Diet
    Men who frequently eat red meat or high-fat dairy experience increased risk of prostate cancer. The same is true for men eating fewer fruits and vegetables. Men consuming too much calcium also have an increased risk of prostate cancer.
  • Obesity
    Being very overweight does not increase the risk of having prostate cancer. But it does increase the risk of very aggressive prostate cancer, versus a less dangerous form.
  • Chemical Exposure
    Firefighters experience an increased risk of prostate cancer, likely due to chemical exposure. The same is true of soldiers from the Vietnam War, possibly linking Agent Orange chemical exposure to this type of cancer.