A man’s risk of having problems with his prostate is determined, in part, by things he can’t change, such as his age, race, and family history. But there are plenty of things you can do to lower your risk of prostate diseases of all kinds.
Here are the steps I suggest to my patients:
- Eat a variety of fruits and vegetables. A diet high in fruits and vegetables has been linked to a lower risk of various kinds of cancer. Foods high in folate may be helpful—folate is a B vitamin found in spinach, asparagus and some beans.
- Choose healthy foods and eat in moderation. The main thing is to avoid a lot of highly processed, high-carb, high-sugar food. Skip the junk food, soft drinks and candy. Go for fresh, natural, whole-grain products. Some foods that seem particularly helpful in preventing prostate cancer are:
- Cold-water fish like salmon and herring
- Soy products and other beans
- Green tea
- Foods high in vitamin D such as cheese and egg yolks (talk to your doctor to see if a vitamin D supplement would be right for you)
- Drink alcohol in moderation. Generally, this means no more than two drinks a day for men. Studies show that regular heavy drinking increases the risk of aggressive prostate cancer.
- Exercise. Do some form of aerobic exercise for 30 minutes or more a day.
Despite a lot of hype on television and the internet, many supplements claiming to boost prostate health have been proven to be useless. These include:
- Selenium supplements
- Vitamin E supplements
- Shark cartilage
- Multivitamin supplements
- Lycopene supplements
One of the best things you can do to keep your prostate healthy is to get yearly checkups. An annual prostate checkup can’t reduce your risk of cancer, but if prostate cancer does develop, a digital rectal exam (DRE) and a prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test may discover the problem early, when treatment can be most effective.
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