Did you know that men of African descent are more likely to suffer from prostate cancer than men of any other race? According to Prostate Cancer UK, 1 in every 4 black men will develop prostate cancer at some point in their life. This is significantly high compared to other men who have a 1 in 8 chance of developing the disease.
What is cancer?
Around the world, reported cases of cancer are increasing rapidly. Over the last few decades, cancer has become a major health burden. In 2012 alone, there were over 14 million new cases and 8 million reported deaths due to cancer worldwide. By 2030, these numbers are set to rise, with 24 million new cases and 17 million deaths expected in the next 13 years. But what is cancer? Cancer occurs when cells in the body begin to grow (or multiply) uncontrollably. Cancer cells are rogue cells. They do not follow normal biological processes. Instead, they continue to grow and divide, eventually causing problems in the affected area. Cancer can be fatal especially when it spreads to parts of the body that performs a function that is essential for life. Generally all types of cancer are treatable and discovering the cancer early can allow treatment to prevent it from spreading. This is why screening for prostate cancer is encouraged for men aged 45 years and over.
Why diet is important?
Researchers are yet to establish why black men are more affected by prostate cancer. But it is suspected that genes, diet and lifestyle could have an important role to play. Diet in particular has been of great interest, both in the onset and prevention of the disease. Some studies have shown that certain foods like saturated fats, red or processed meat and dairy products can increase the risk of prostate cancer. By and large, a healthy diet is important for general health and indeed, prostate cancer. A healthy diet can not only help reduce the chance of the cancer spreading but it may also help manage or reduce the side effects of treatment. When it comes to lifestyle, smoking is perhaps the most concerning. Smoking is associated with a number of health problems including heart disease, stroke and other cancers (such as Lung cancer). In men with prostate cancer, smoking may aggravate the condition. It increases the risk of the cancer spreading to other parts. Continuing to smoke after surgery increases the chance of the cancer coming back (a condition referred to as reemission).
The bottom line
In any case, irrespective of race, you may be at risk for prostate cancer if you are 45 years or over, overweight and if a close male relative (like your father or brother) has been previously diagnosed with prostate cancer. In regards to genes, there is not much that can be done. Genes are inherited from our parents. But food and diet are within our grasp. Making small alterations to our diet and lifestyle can go a long way in preventing disease including prostate cancer.
Side notes (A few facts about cancer):
1. Cancer is not a single disease. In fact, there are more than 100 types of cancer.
2. With 1.1 million known cases, prostate cancer is the second most common type of cancer among men. It is second only to lung cancer which affects over 1.2 million men worldwide.
3. A study done in Zambia conducted between 1990 and 2005, found an incidence rate of 37.7 per 100,000 for prostate cancer.
4. According to the World Cancer Research Fund, one third of cancers can be prevented through diet, maintaining a healthy weight and regular physical exercise.
5. The lack of low cost community based screening means that more men could be at risk of prostate cancer unknowingly.
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