Men may not think much about their prostate until they have problems with it. But why wait until something goes wrong? If you learn how to take care of your prostate, you are more likely to improve your chances of avoiding prostate cancer and other related conditions.
The prostate is a walnut-sized gland located between the bladder and the penis. Its job is to produce the fluid that together with sperm cells from the testicles and fluids from other glands makes up semen.
About one in seven men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in their lifetime
Besides prostate cancer, the prostate is vulnerable to other associated conditions such as prostatitis and benign prostatic hyperplasia. The sooner you start thinking about your prostate, the greater the likelihood you will avoid potential issues in the future. All men can and should take preventative steps to keep their prostate in tip top shape – regardless of whether they have a family history of prostate cancer or not.
According to the American Cancer Society, about 164,690 new cases of prostate cancer will be diagnosed in 2018 and about one in seven men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in their lifetime.
Here are seven ways to improve the chances of keeping a prostate healthy and cancer free:
1. Maintain a healthy body weight and exercise regularly
Aim to stay at a healthy body weight for your height, paying special attention to reducing central abdominal obesity or belly fat. Keeping up a consistent, regular exercise routine can help maintain weight and keep it from accumulating in the belly area.
2. Eat more fruits and vegetables
Try to consume a minimum of five servings of fruits and vegetables each day. Colorful produce is especially important. Tomatoes, for instance, are loaded with phytochemical lycopene – a healthy compound for prostates – as are pink grapefruit, watermelons, and papaya. Cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, Bok choy, and kale also help prevent all types of cancer.
3. Get some sun
The sun is our main source of vitamin D which has been shown to help reduce the risk of developing prostate cancer. Receiving too little sun may increase the risk of getting the disease so it is important to get outdoors – but make sure you always use sunscreen.
4. Quit smoking
Smoking appears to increase the risk of prostate cancer by affecting circulating hormone levels. Exposure to carcinogens also elevates the risk. If a man currently smokes, he should get help to quit as soon as possible.
Men should consume a minimum of five servings of fruits and vegetables each day
5. Choose foods rich in selenium
According to studies, the mineral selenium can help prevent prostate cancer. Look for ways to include more selenium-rich foods in your diet. These include wheat germ, tuna, herring, beef liver, eggs, sunflower and sesame seeds, cashews, mushrooms, garlic, and onions.
6. Find out your family history for prostate cancer
It’s always a good idea to know your family medical history and for a man it is especially important to find out if any close relatives (father, brother, or grandfather) have ever had prostate issues or prostate cancer. Let your doctor know if there is a history of prostate cancer in your family as this can double your chance of developing the disease.
Other factors that elevate the risk of developing prostate cancer include:
- Being African-American
- Being of Scandinavian descent
- Having two or more family members who were diagnosed with prostate cancer
7. Take a PSA blood test and digital rectal exam
The standard tests for checking a man’s prostate is the prostate specific antigen (PSA) and digital rectal exam. You should ask his doctor when you need to begin taking these tests. Once they start, they should be done annually.
Dr. Samadi is a board-certified urologic oncologist trained in open and traditional and laparoscopic surgery and is an expert in robotic prostate surgery. He is chairman of urology, chief of robotic surgery at Lenox Hill Hospital. He is a medical contributor for the Fox News Channel’s Medical A-Team. Follow Dr. Samadi on Twitter, Pinterest, SamadiMD.com, davidsamadiwiki, davidsamadibio and Facebook.