Prostate Cancer Risk Factors


A risk factor for prostate cancer is anything that increases your 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. It is also important to know about your risk factors so that you can inform your provider.

Although the causes are not known, researchers have found several factors that increase the risk of developing prostate cancer. Those risk factors include:

  • Age
    The chance of developing prostate cancer increases after age 50. Nearly two thirds of all 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 and is frequently diagnosed at a more advanced stage. Hispanic and Caucasian men develop prostate cancer at similar rates, while the condition is found less often in Asian men. The reasons for these racial differences are not understood at this time.

  • Family History
    Prostate cancer seems to have an inherited or genetic factor. Having a father or brother with prostate cancer more than doubles a man’s risk of developing the disease. The risk is much higher for men with several affected relatives, particularly if their relatives were young at the time the cancer was found.

  • Nationality
    Prostate cancer is most common in men from North America and northwestern Europe. It is less common in Asia, Africa, Central America, and South America.

  • Diet
    Men who eat large quantities of red meat or high-fat dairy products, along with fewer fruits and vegetables, appear to have a slightly higher chance of getting prostate cancer. Some studies have suggested that men who consume very high levels of calcium, through food or dietary supplements, may have a higher risk of advanced prostate cancer. It’s important to note that calcium is known to have other important health benefits, and it is not recommended to avoid calcium-containing foods.

  • Exercise
    It is not clear if regular exercise reduces the risk of prostate cancer, although some recent studies show that exercise may reduce the risk of prostate cancer diagnosis, progression, or death.