Healthy lifestyle may prevent prostate cancer

One out of every 12 Israeli men will have prostate cancer in their lifetime, according to the Israel Cancer Association.

September 14, 2010 05:46
2 minute read.
Medical staff at a hospital

hospital doctors health 311. (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file[)

One out of every 12 men will at some time have prostate cancer, according to the Israel Cancer Association, which on Wednesday will mark International Prostate Cancer Awareness Day.

It has been diagnosed in men like former prime minister Ehud Olmert and actor Robert De Niro. In the past year, 2,890 new cases of the tumor – the third most common cancer in the country – were diagnosed, 2,769 of them Jewish and just 121 Arabs (less than half the general per-capita rate).

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Although many victims will not die from the very slow-developing tumor, prostate cancer can kill. The main risk factor is just getting older.

While 36 men aged 40 to 50 were diagnosed with it in the past year, the figure was 400 in the 50 to 60 age group; 950 among those aged 60 to 70 and 1,400 over 70. A family history of prostate cancer doubles the risk. But environmental factors such as smoking and drinking alcohol raise the risk substantially.

Early symptoms of the tumor include problems such as a difficulty in urinating, an increase in the frequency and pain during urination, and (rarely) blood in the urine or during sex. Any man who has one symptom or more should go to his doctor immediately.

But in most cases, an enlarged prostate is benign and not cancerous, as testosterone over many years causes the prostate gland to grow in size.

Epidemiologists and other researchers have accumulated data showing that a healthful lifestyle can lower the prevalence of prostate cancer. Excess weight and obesity; poor nutrition and the lack of physical activity; exaggerated drinking of alcoholic beverages; and smoking cigarettes, cigars, pipes or nargilas (water pipes) all raise the risk.

New research, according to the Israel Cancer Association, has shown that consuming trans fats (solidified fats such as margarine or those used in many purchased baked goods) increases the risk of this type of tumor. The study, conducted by the Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Control of Canada’s Public Health Agency sent questionnaires about nutrition to male residents of eight Canadian provinces; half of them, about 1,800, had contracted prostate cancer, while the rest had not. Those who reported the highest consumption of trans fats had a 45 percent risk of prostate cancer, compared to those who rarely ate trans fats. The study was recently published in the journal Nutrition and Cancer.

Meanwhile, higher consumption of vegetables, omega 3 (oily fish or fish oil tablets) and green tea reduces the risk of prostate cancer because of their antioxidant properties. A study just published in the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology Journal showed this beneficial connection. A previous study by the University of California found that those men who consumed a large amount of omega 3 were 63% less likely to contract the most aggressive type of prostate cancer compared to men who had absorbed little or no omega 3. This study appeared in Cancer Watch.

On Wednesday, the ICA will hold a free seminar on the subject for men with the tumor and their partners. It will begin at Kfar Hamaccabiah in Ramat Gan from 9 a.m. and continue until 4 p.m. One should register in advance by calling 1-800- 599-995. There is also an Internet forum at

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