Below the Belt: Men at Risk for Prostate Cancer
9/1/2014, 12:06 p.m.
It’s not easy for men to talk about health below the belt. It can be an uncomfortable subject for many people. September is National Prostate Cancer Awareness Month. Now is the perfect time to start talking about the health risks. Learn about prostate cancer and the pros and cons of getting tested.
What is a prostate?
The prostate is a small, walnut-sized gland that only men have. It produces the fluid that sperm live in. It’s located in front of the rectum, which is below the bladder. Prostate cancer happens on the prostate. Cells become unbalanced, creating more and more cells. This can create a tumor (lump). The cancer cells can spread to other parts of the body and can lead to death.
Am I at risk?
Since only men have a prostate, only men can get prostate cancer. It is one of the most common forms of cancer in men. African-American men are at the highest risk. Also, older men of all races are most likely to get the condition. In fact, it is hardly ever found in men younger than 40. Chances of having prostate cancer rise rapidly for men over the age of 50. Prostate cancer can also run in the family. There is a greater risk if your father or brother have or had it. Talk to your family members about any history of the condition in your family. To get more information about prostate cancer, talk to your doctor.
Most prostate cancers grow slowly. Many men with the illness do not experience any health problems. Signs or symptoms may include:
• Weak urine flow
• Pain or burning when urinating
• Needing to urinate very often
• Not being able to urinate
• Blood in urine
• Blood in semen
• Pain in lower back, hips or thighs
• Pain in bones
• Erectile dysfunction
Not everyone with these symptoms has prostate cancer. Each of the symptoms could mean many different things. If you have any of these symptoms, see your doctor right away.
There is no sure way to prevent prostate cancer. But there are things you can do that can lower your risk. These simple tasks may help prevent prostate cancer:
• Maintain a healthy weight. Staying fit can benefit your body in many ways. Make healthy food choices and try to exercise most days of the week.
• Eat fruits and vegetables. Eating fruits and vegetables gives you nutrients that help keep your body healthy.
• Stay active. Get regular exercise. Try to be active for 30 minutes a day. Talk to your doctor about exercises that are right for you.
• Add soy to your diet. Add tofu or soybeans to your meals. Look for soybeans in the pod called edamame (ed-uh-MAH-may). Eat them steamed or boiled.
• Drink green tea or take a green tea supplement. Drink it hot or iced. Add a teaspoon of honey for sweetener.
• Drink less alcohol, if any at all. One study found drinking alcohol every day over many years may increase your risk for prostate cancer.