September is National Prostate Health Month. Prostate cancer is the second most common cancer in men. In fact, one in seven men nationwide will be diagnosed with prostate cancer sometime during their life. Luckily, there are several things that men can do to take charge of their health. Making lifestyle changes in keeping with the following guidelines is a step in the right direction to help men live long cancer-free lives.
Know your risk factor.
Unfortunately, some men are considered more at risk based on factors they can’t control, like genetics. In fact, the likelihood of developing prostate cancer doubles for men with a father or brother who has been diagnosed with the disease. African American men, men over 60 and those who eat a diet high in animal fats also have higher than normal odds of developing prostate cancer. That’s why it’s so important to share accurate information about your lifestyle habits and family history with your doctor. Knowing how at risk you are will help your doctor decide when you should start getting screened.
Watch what you eat.
Eating a heart healthy calorie controlled diet is sound advice for most people in general, and it’s definitely a good idea if you want to lower your risk of developing cancer. Aim to include at least five servings of fruits and veggies in your diet each day. It’s also a good idea to cut back on red meat in favor or leaner choices like chicken. But be careful if you plan to barbeque! It’s surprising, but charred meats contain carcinogens that can accumulate in the body, increasing your risk of cancer. Try foil-wrapping or marinating meats before throwing them on the grill to keep them from burning.
Staying active and keeping your weight under control are good for your general health and maintaining a trim figure can also lower your odds of developing prostate cancer. Try walking, running, bicycling or swimming. Shoot for 30 minutes of physical activity at least three times a week to stay fit and healthy.
Don’t skip annual screenings.
Fortunately, the prognosis for prostate cancer is very good in most cases, but early detection is crucial. Since men are often symptom-free when they are diagnosed, regular screenings are essential to catch problems right away when they are easiest to treat. For most men, that means getting an annual prostate exam once they turn 50. If you fall into a higher-risk category, your doctor may want to start keeping an eye on things closer to age 40.
For more information on prostate cancer and cancer prevention, check out the American Cancer Society’s website, www.cancer.org.