What are the Risk Factors Contributing to Prostate Cancer?

Prostate cancer is one of the most common forms of cancer affecting American men. Prostate cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in American men, behind only lung cancer. According to the American Cancer Society, 1 in 6 men are diagnosed with prostate cancer in a lifetime with 1 in 36 succumbing to prostate cancer.

As of 2012:

  • About 241,740 new cases of prostate cancer will be diagnosed
  • About 28,170 men will die of prostate cancer

Research into the causes of the condition has helped the medical community identify risk factors that contribute to the development of prostate cancer.

  • Age: Men over 40 are at a higher risk of developing prostate cancer. The risk continues to elevate as men age. Prostate cancer occurs primarily in older men, with 2/3 diagnoses coming in men over 65. The average age for diagnosis is 67. Prostate cancer is the leading cause of cancer-related deaths in men over 75. However, most men diagnosed with prostate cancer do not die from it.
  • Diet: A diet high in fat increases the likelihood of developing prostate cancer. High-fat food intake is thought to increase the body’s production of testosterone, potentially promoting abnormal cell growth on the prostate gland.
  • Ethnicity: African-American men have a higher risk of developing prostate cancer and are twice as likely to die from the condition in comparison to Caucasian men, while Japanese men have the lowest risk.
  • Genetic History: A study conducted by Dr. James M. Slater and the City of Hope explains the likelihood of developing prostate cancer is higher if it runs in your family (i.e. brother or father), a fact which suggests that there may be an inherited or genetic factor to the condition.
  • High Testosterone Levels: Unusually high concentrations of testosterone cause prostate abnormalities and may contribute to an elevated risk of prostate cancer.