Urologic Oncology Program: Prostate, Bladder, Kidney

Prevention Guidelines

No one knows the exact causes of prostate cancer. Doctors often cannot explain why one man develops prostate cancer and another does not.

Prostate cancer may begin to develop in men in their 20s and by the time men reach their 90s, as much as 80% of prostates contain areas of cancer. What is more interesting than this is how small the percentage is of men who develop clinical (diagnosed) prostate cancer. So, at this time, the prevention question is really how to keep from developing clinical prostate cancer, or cancer which may cause death or illness. In fact only 3% of men die from prostate cancer while 18-20% of men may be diagnosed with it.

How to keep yourself in the group of men who do not develop clinical prostate cancer is the important question. One obvious statement is that a life-time of avoidance of negative influences is going to be more effective than starting a program of “healthy living” when you are already later in life. Since most people with prostate cancer do not die from it but rather from a heart condition, one clear prevention message is “heart healthy is prostate healthy”. This approach includes:

  • Avoiding excessive amount of saturated fat intake
  • Increasing weekly consumption of deep water fish
  • Daily consumption of a variety of vegetables, especially the category called “cruciferous,” which includes broccoli and cauliflower
  • Ample intake of cooked tomatoes
  • A variety of nuts in modest quantity
  • A variety of mixed berries and other fruits
  • Add soy products to your diet, such as tofu
  • Consider drinking green tea
  • Red wine in moderation is recommended
  • BMI (healthy range)

These and other healthful food choices may be preventive when practiced over a life-time. Unfortunately, most of the evidence does not support the alternative use of a handful of herbal or vitamin pills instead of good diet choices.

The one medication category that has shown some potential for prostate cancer prevention is called a 5 alpha-reductase inhibitor (marketed as Proscar and Avodart). A large study – The Prostate Cancer Prevention Trial – demonstrated a significant decrease in the diagnosis of prostate cancer in the half of the men who were given the drug. You may want to discuss this with your physician to see whether you are an appropriate candidate to be given this prescription.