Do you know the risk factors for prostate cancer?

November 5, 2018 Providence Health Team

If you’re seeing light blue ribbons adorning lapels this month, or more fantastic moustaches ensconced on upper lips than usual, that’s because we’re in the midst of No Shave November, also known as Movember. It’s an annual observance where men grow out their moustaches for the month to raise awareness of important men’s health issues like prostate cancer. Light blue is the color for prostate cancer awareness.

We spoke with Garrett S. Matsunaga, M.D., a urologist who specializes in robotic surgery and laparoscopy at Providence Little Company of Mary Medical Center and  South Bay Urology in Torrance, who suggests men become educated and aware of the known risk factors associated with prostate cancer. There are three of them, he says:

Genetics. A family history of prostate cancer can be an alert to be aware of the possibility with other family members, Dr. Matsunaga says. Generally, if a brother has prostate cancer there’s a 2.5 times increased risk factor for male siblings in the family; if a father has prostate cancer, that translates to a 2 times increased risk factor for his sons.

Ethnicity. The incidence of prostate cancer is higher with African Americans. As a result, urologists recommend African American men be screened at age 40, whereas most other men in the U.S. are screened starting at age 50.

Obesity. There’s a link between prostate cancer and obesity as well as the disease and dietary habits, Dr. Matsunaga says. “Diets high in saturated fats or animal fats are linked to higher rates of prostate cancer,” he says. “Western countries have a higher risk of prostate cancer than countries with more of a plant-based diet.”

Dr. Matsunaga offers two key prevention tips for men wanting to be attentive to their prostate health.

First, he recommends an annual prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood test and digital rectal exam for men starting at age 50, or from age 40 if there is a strong family history of prostate cancer or for men of African-American descent.

And Dr. Matsunaga says there’s a simple prevention approach to reduce the risk of prostate cancer: “If it’s good for the heart, it’s good for the prostate,” he says. In other words, a regimen of a healthy diet and regular exercise will benefit not only the cardio-vascular health but the prostate as well. 

Garrett Matsunaga, M.D., on prostate cancer:

If you have questions about cancer, find a health care provider in our physician directory.

CA: Providence Little Company of Mary Medical Center; Providence Holy Cross; Roy and Patricia Disney Family Cancer Center; John Wayne Cancer Institute

WA: Providence Regional Cancer System; Providence Regional Cancer Center - Spokane; Swedish Cancer Institute; Kadlec Oncology Program; Pacific Medical Centers

OR: Providence Cancer Institute

MT: Montana Cancer Center at Providence St. Patrick Hospital and Providence St. Joseph Medical Center

AK: Providence Cancer Center

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This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your health care professional's instructions.

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