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Causes of Prostate Cancer: Medications and Nutritional Links

Aug 17, 2007
Although the causes of prostate cancer are still generally unknown, the fact that scientists were able to identify some of the nutritional and medicine-related risk factors of the disease has been a big help. Aside from nutritional factors and some medicines; age, genes and race are also believed to influence the development of this condition.

Nutritional factors associated with the unknown causes of prostate cancer are supported by studies showing that Western men account for a higher percentage of diagnosed cases compared with Asian men. Scientists have inferred that this might be due to the difference in the composition of the two groups' diet, with Westerners more inclined to eat red meat while Asians are more likely to include vegetables and fruits in their diet.

According to several studies, certain foods, vitamins and minerals can contribute to the development of cancer in the prostate. Men with higher serum levels of the short-chain omega 3-fatty acid linolenic acid have been found to have higher rates of prostate cancer, while those who have elevated levels of long-chain omega-3 had lower incidence.

Other nutritional factors implicated in the development of the condition include low intake of vitamin E, which can be found in green vegetables; lycopene, found in tomatoes; omega-3 fatty acids contained in salmon and other fishes; selenium; and lower blood levels of vitamin D. Lower levels of vitamin D in the body may be due to lower exposure to ultraviolet light.

Aside from intake levels of minerals and vitamins, obesity has also been implicated as a risk factor of prostate cancer. Although the connection between prostate cancer and obesity is not exactly clear, researchers believe that obesity does have a negative effect on disease outcomes. Results of prostate-specific antigen tests in some overweight men were found to be lower despite the presence of cancer, causing a possible delay in diagnosis and treatment. Overweight men are also slower to recover after surgery and risk of dying is higher among them.

Studies have also found that there is a connection between prostate cancer and medications. Research has shown that daily use of anti-inflammatory drugs like aspirin, ibuprofen and naproxen may decrease prostate cancer risk. Cholesterol-lowering drugs or statins are also believed to lower the chances of developing cancer in the prostate.

Other factors that could increase a man's chances of developing cancer include sterilization by vasectomy, infection or inflammation of the prostate, sexually transmitted infections like chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis. It is also believed that men who have more frequent ejaculation have lower chances of developing cancer. A study has shown that those who ejaculated five times a week in their 20s recorded a decreased rate of prostate cancer.

The specific causes of prostate cancer still remain a mystery to scientists, but the identification of several factors that influence the development of the disease is a big step towards knowing how to manage the condition.
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