Exploring the Risk Factors and Causes of Prostate Cancer
Up to now, scientists have not found an exact cause for prostate cancer. They are working hard to learn more about this disease, but they can’t say for certain why prostate cancer happens to some people and not others.
Certain factors, however, have been linked to an increased risk of developing prostate cancer. Having one or more of these risk factors doesn’t guarantee you will get this disease – but it does mean you are more likely to. Regular checkups and surveillance are important to ensuring early diagnosis and treatment if any of the most common known risk factors apply to you.
What Causes Prostate Cancer?
Cancer starts when normal cells mutate and stop working properly. In the case of prostate cancer, the mutations can cause prostate cells to grow out of control and eventually develop into cancer. Why do these mutations occur in the first place? Sometimes we inherit DNA changes from our parents, and other times the changes are caused during our lifetime by external health or lifestyle factors.
Risk Factors for Prostate Cancer
Older men are much more likely to develop prostate cancer than younger men. Prostate cancer can and does happen to young adults, but rarely. The older you get, the higher the risk, which is why most prostate cancer cases occur in men aged 65 or older. You can take preventative action by going for early detection screenings as recommended by your doctor.
Researchers don’t know why some ethnicities have a higher chance of getting prostate cancer than others. We do know, however, that African-Americans have the highest chance of developing it in their lifetime. Caribbean men of African descent are also at an increased risk. Asian-American men and Hispanic/Latino men have the lowest risk.
As mentioned, some cases of prostate cancer emanate from genetic factors. That’s why men who have a family history of prostate cancer should go for regular screenings starting at age 45. The risk increases significantly if your father or brother has been diagnosed. If one of your relatives was diagnosed at a young age, it could be a warning sign that the disease is indeed genetic.
Inherited Gene Changes
A small percentage of prostate cancer cases are linked to inherited gene changes. If you have Lynch syndrome or inherited mutations of the BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes, you are at higher risk and genetic testing, regular cancer screening, and preventative action are important.
Other Possible Risk Factors
The following have been identified as possible risk factors, although their direct cause and effect in prostate cancer are unclear:
- Eating a diet high in red meat or high-fat dairy products, and low in fruits and vegetables
- Exposure to certain chemicals (Some patient groups, such as firefighters and Vietnam War veterans, were more severely exposed than other people.)
- Inflammation of the prostate (prostatitis)
- Sexually transmitted infections, such as gonorrhea or Chlamydia
Talk to Your Doctor Today
While there are many unknowns with prostate cancer, one thing’s for certain: The team at Regional Cancer Care Associates will take good care of you. Whether you’ve been diagnosed with prostate cancer or you’re just looking for more information about your personal risk, schedule an appointment at your local RCCA office to learn more about possible prostate cancer causes and risk factors.