Prostate cancer prevention: Ways to reduce your risk
There’s no proven prostate cancer prevention strategy. But you may reduce your risk of prostate cancer by making healthy choices, such as exercising and eating a healthy diet.
If you’re concerned about your risk of prostate cancer, you may be interested in prostate cancer prevention.
There’s no sure way to prevent prostate cancer. Study results often conflict with each other, and most studies aren’t designed to definitively prove whether something prevents prostate cancer. As a result, no clear ways to prevent prostate cancer have emerged.
In general, doctors recommend that men with an average risk of prostate cancer make choices that benefit their overall health if they’re interested in prostate cancer prevention.
Choose a healthy diet
There is some evidence that choosing a healthy diet that’s low in fat and full of fruits and vegetables may contribute to a lower risk of prostate cancer, though research results have been mixed and this hasn’t been proved concretely.
If you want to reduce your risk of prostate cancer, consider trying to:
Choose a low-fat diet. Foods that contain fats include meats, nuts, oils and dairy products, such as milk and cheese.
In some studies, men who ate the highest amount of fat each day had an increased risk of prostate cancer. This doesn’t prove that excess fat causes prostate cancer. Other studies haven’t found this association. But reducing the amount of fat you eat each day has other proven benefits, such as helping you control your weight and helping your heart.
To reduce the amount of fat you eat each day, limit fatty foods or choose low-fat varieties. For instance, reduce the amount of fat you add to foods when cooking, select leaner cuts of meat, and choose low-fat or reduced-fat dairy products.
Increase the amount of fruits and vegetables you eat each day. Fruits and vegetables are full of vitamins and nutrients that are thought to reduce the risk of prostate cancer, though research hasn’t proved that any particular nutrient is guaranteed to reduce your risk.
Eating more fruits and vegetables also tends to make you have less room for other foods, such as high-fat foods.
You might consider increasing the amount of fruits and vegetables you eat each day by adding an additional serving of a fruit or vegetable to each meal. Consider eating fruits and vegetables for snacks.
- Reduce the amount of dairy products you eat each day. In studies, men who ate the most dairy products — such as milk, cheese and yogurt — each day had the highest risk of prostate cancer. But study results have been mixed, and the risk associated with dairy products is thought to be small.
Maintain a healthy weight
Men who are obese — a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or higher — may have an increased risk of prostate cancer. If you are overweight or obese, work on losing weight. You can do this by reducing the number of calories you eat each day and increasing the amount of exercise you do.
If you are at a healthy weight, work to maintain it by exercising most days of the week and choosing a healthy diet that’s rich in fruits, vegetables and whole grains.
Exercise most days of the week
Studies of exercise and prostate cancer risk have mostly shown that men who exercise may have a reduced risk of prostate cancer.
Exercise has many other health benefits and may reduce your risk of heart disease and other cancers. Exercise can help you maintain your weight, or it can help you lose weight.
If you don’t already exercise, make an appointment with your doctor to make sure it’s OK for you to get started. When you begin exercising, go slowly. Add physical activity to your day by parking your car farther away from where you’re going, and try taking the stairs instead of the elevator.
Aim for 30 minutes of exercise most days of the week.
Talk to your doctor about your risk
Some men have an increased risk of prostate cancer. For those with a very high risk of prostate cancer, there may be other options for risk reduction, such as medications. If you think you have a high risk of prostate cancer, discuss it with your doctor.
Sept. 24, 2020
- Wein AJ, et al., eds. Epidemiology, etiology and prevention of prostate cancer. In: Campbell-Walsh Urology. 11th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Elsevier; 2016. https://wwwclinicalkey.com. Accessed Aug. 29, 2018.
- Prostate cancer prevention (PDQ). National Cancer Institute. https://www.cancer.gov/types/prostate/patient/prostate-prevention-pdq. Accessed Aug. 29, 2018.
- Ballon-Landa E, et al. Nutrition, physical activity and lifestyle factors in prostate cancer prevention. Current Opinion in Urology. 2019:28;55.
- Kushi LH, et al. American Cancer Society guidelines on nutrition and physical activity for cancer prevention. CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians. 2012;62:30.
- 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and U.S. Department of Agriculture. https://health.gov/dietaryguidelines/2015/guidelines. Accessed May 1, 2018.