Family history’s impact on risk of prostate cancer

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Family history’s impact on risk of prostate cancer

Many studies have shown the influence of a man’s family history and its direct impact on developing prostate cancer. Men, whose father or brother had prostate cancer, are at an increased risk for the disease. Of course, no man can change his biological roots, hoping to wipe away this risk factor for possibly causing prostate cancer.  In fact, research from Sweden in recent years calculated just how much having a brother or father with prostate cancer – or both – raises the risk.  This same research also found out how likely it is that a man with a family history will get a mild or aggressive (fast-growing) type of the disease. 

The research done in Sweden extensively reviewed the medical records of 52,000 men with brothers and fathers who had prostate cancer.  The findings from the study were revealing in what appears to be a link between men with a family history of prostate cancer being at a higher risk of developing the disease than men without a family history.  Here is what the study found:

·      Men with a brother who had prostate cancer had twice as high a risk of being diagnosed as the general population. They had about a 30% risk of being diagnosed before age 75, compared with about 13% among men with no family history.

·      Men with a brother who had prostate cancer had a 9% risk of getting an aggressive type of prostate cancer by age 75, compared with about 5% among other men.

·      Men with both a brother and father with prostate cancer had about 3 times the risk of being diagnosed as the general population. They had about a 48% chance of getting any type of prostate cancer, compared with about 13% among other men.

·      Men with both a brother and father with prostate cancer had about a 14% chance of getting an aggressive type of prostate cancer by age 75, compared with about 5% among other men.

Another important finding from this study was that while prostate cancer rates increased among men with either a brother or their father having had the disease, the type of prostate cancer did not have a strong effect on risk.  In other words, the risk of an aggressive prostate cancer was just as high in men whose brothers had the mildest form of prostate cancer as those whose brothers had an aggressive type.

What can men with a strong family history of prostate cancer do to reduce their risk?

Of course, family history cannot be changed but that doesn’t mean men with this dilemma are powerless.  There are certain steps they can take to possibly reduce their risk but also to discover or find prostate cancer at the earliest stage possible for a greater chance of beating it back. 

·      Prostate cancer screening – Any man with a family history of prostate cancer needs to begin with a baseline screening PSA screening for the disease at age 40.  From there, with the recommendation of his doctor, it can be determined the best course of action on the frequency for prostate cancer screening.

·      Eat a healthy diet – Avoid foods high in sodium, saturated fat, cholesterol, refined sugar, and trans fat, which contribute to cancer risk.  Instead, choose foods high in omega-3 fatty acids (salmon, nuts) and monounsaturated fats (olive oil, peanuts, avocados) as well as fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Eating right doesn’t just lower your risk for prostate cancer but prevents weight gain and improves your overall health.

·      Be physically active – Participate in 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity each week.  This can include walking, swimming, biking, jogging, or any exercise your doctor recommends.