A risk factor for prostate cancer is anything that increases a person's chance of developing the disease. It's important to keep in mind that many men with one or more risk factors never get prostate cancer, while others with no known risk factors do develop the disease. Dr. Patel, can you tell us about some of the risk factors for prostate cancer?
Certainly, Dr. Reynolds. Although the exact cause of prostate cancer is not known, researchers have identified several risk factors for the disease. Those risk factors include:
- Age: The chance of developing prostate cancer increases after age 50. Most prostate cancers are found in men over the age of 65.
- Race: In the United States, prostate cancer occurs more often in African-American men. Additionally, African-American men with prostate cancer are more likely to die from the disease.
- Family history: Men who have a first-degree relative with prostate cancer are more likely to develop the disease themselves. The risk is much higher for men with several affected relatives, particularly if their relatives were younger than 65 years of age at the time the cancer was found.
- Hormones: Testosterone is changed into dihydrotestosterone, or DHT, by an enzyme in the body. DHT is important for normal prostate growth, but it can also cause the prostate to become enlarged, and may play a part in the development of prostate cancer.
- Diet and supplements: Some studies found that the risk of prostate cancer increases in men who take vitamin E. In addition, men who take supplements of folic acid have an increased risk of prostate cancer. Folic acid is a man-made form of folate, which occurs naturally in green vegetables, beans, and orange juice. A diet high in dairy foods and calcium may also cause a small increase in the risk of prostate cancer.