Ten Tips to Adopt a Healthy Lifestyle and Reduce the Risk of Prostate Cancer

With 36 thousand new diagnoses per year, prostate cancer represents 19% of all cancers diagnosed in the Italian male population (source: Cancer numbers in Italy 2021, AIOM).

The Prostate

The prostate is a walnut-sized gland placed below the base of the bladder, anterior to the rectum. It produces seminal fluid. Prostate enlargements can be benign (benign prostatic hyperplasia) or cancerous. Some symptoms (such as frequent urination) are common to both. It is therefore important to consult your doctor for screening for prostate cancer, especially between the ages of 55 and 69.

Symptoms of Prostate Cancer

In the early stages, prostate cancer usually does not present any symptoms. As the disease progresses, the following symptoms may arise:

  • Bone pain.
  • Dull pain in the pelvic area.
  • Pain in the hips, lower back or upper thighs.
  • Painful ejaculations.
  • Need to urinate frequently.
  • Weight loss.
  • Loss of appetite.
  • Blood in the urine.

Risk Factors for Prostate Cancer

The causes of prostate cancer are not known, but there are some recognized risk factors:

  • Obesity.
  • Age: Above 55 years, prostate cancer is more frequent (it is rarely observed in subjects under 40 years).
  • Familiarity of prostate cancer.

How to Reduce the Risk of Prostate Cancer

Many scientific studies indicate that the lifestyle we adopt can increase or reduce the risk of developing chronic non-communicable diseases, including oncological diseases. The World Cancer Research Fund has published a review of scientific research dedicated to the relationship between diet, lifestyles and cancer. The food and drink we consume, our activity levels and our weight influence cancer risk. To reduce it, it is important to maintain weight at a healthy level, avoid smoking, limit alcohol use and reduce stress levels.

10 tips to prevent chronic diseases:

  1. Limit the consumption of red meat. Red meat (beef, pork, lamb) is rich in saturated fats and calories. Chicken breast, fish and legumes are better sources of protein.
  2. Eat fresh fruits and vegetables. Tomatoes, broccoli, blueberries and cauliflower contain nutrients that can help slow the spread of cancer. In addition, eating large portions of fruits and vegetables reduces the temptation to snack on junk food.
  3. Eat "good fats". Olive oil, fish, nuts and avocados all contain omega 3 fats. Avoid partially hydrogenated fats (also called trans fats) contained in many packaged foods.
  4. Limit the consumption of dairy products and calcium. A diet rich in dairy and calcium can increase your risk of developing prostate cancer.
  5. Quit smoking. Tobacco has a negative effect on the entire body, and is a serious risk factor for prostate cancer. Good news: ten years without smoking bring down the risk factor for prostate cancer, bringing it to the same level as that of a non-smoker of the same age.
  6. Consume alcohol in moderation. High alcohol consumption weakens the immune system and exposes you to the risk of many diseases, including cancer. In addition, people under the influence of alcohol often overeat: a combination that can cause obesity, a risk factor for prostate cancer.
  7. Incorporate exercise into your daily routine. Any type of movement contributes to health, but many people have difficulty sticking to a strict exercise routine. The first step is to look for small ways to move more throughout the day. Park your car farther from the office, walk to the supermarket, take the stairs instead of taking the elevator.
  8. Train with pleasure. Going to the gym often seems like yet another boring task: better, then, to look for another form of physical exercise. A simple walk or bike ride can increase your heart rate and reduce stress.
  9. Add yoga to your workout routine. Stress increases the risk of developing many diseases, including prostate cancer. Yoga therapy increases blood flow and relieves stress. In addition, it increases flexibility and muscle tone, to the benefit of the whole body.
  10. Improve the quality of sleep. Adults need 7-9 hours of sleep per night to recharge and prevent disease. Developing a relaxing nighttime routine — for example, turning off your phone and dimming the lights before bedtime — helps you get an optimal rest.

Following a healthy lifestyle is unfortunately not enough to prevent prostate cancer – genes play an important role in this disease – but it can do a lot to reduce risk factors.