Taking Care of Men's Health
June is Men's Health Month, and it is the perfect time for this discussion since Father’s Day falls in June; in fact, it is coming up this Sunday. One health area that men need to think about is prostate cancer. One in five men will get prostate cancer in their lifetime; this is the second most common type of cancer for men. The good news is that early detection makes this a very treatable and curable cancer. A recent observational study reported at the American Association for Cancer Research meeting noted that a healthy lifestyle may reduce the odds for prostate cancer in men who are at high genetic risk.
These are the most common (and out-of-our-control) prostate cancer risks factors:
- Age - getting older
- Family history - genetics
- African American descent
Observational data from this Harvard study of 10,500 men at genetic risk for prostate cancer found that there were 2,100 cases of prostate cancer over the 18 years of study follow-up. Over 22 years of follow-up there were 240 lethal cases of prostate cancer.
The researchers point out that even if the study participants had a genetic risk for developing prostate cancer, the overall risk was low if they were eating a nutritious diet, engaged in regular exercise and maintained a healthy weight.
Unfortunately the primary risk factors for getting prostate cancer are not within our control: age, genetics and race. But the good news is that very few men die from prostate cancer when there is early detection. And this Harvard study that I mentioned above indicates that some lifestyle factors may offer protection from getting prostate cancer, even if a person is at genetic risk. We also know that those lifestyle factors of unhealthy diet, excess weight, and lack of exercise have been implicated in the risk for developing other types of cancer, as well as for cardiovascular disease. So it really makes sense that for overall health and a long life to
- eat well most of the time with a nourishing diet that includes lots of plant foods, less red meat and processed meats and fewer highly refined processed foods
- have daily physical movement or exercise of some type
- reach and maintain a lean healthy weight
Additional information on all types of cancer at www.cancer.org or www.nih.gov.
About the Author
Rita Smith is a Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator. She's been working in the field of nutrition and disease prevention for more than 35 years and currently works at Sentara Martha Jefferson Hospital in Charlottesville, Va. Each week, Rita provides nutrition counseling to clients who have a variety of disorders or diseases including high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, celiac disease, irritable bowel syndrome, gastroparesis and weight management. For these clients, food choices can help them manage their health problems.