Prostate Cancer Awareness Month is a time for men and health care providers to increase awareness about the disease and discuss prostate cancer screening options.
Prostate cancer affects 1 in 6 men and is the most common type of cancer in men in the United States. It is the second most common cause of cancer death.
According to the Prostate Cancer Foundation, only 1 in 10,000 men under the age of 40 will be diagnosed, but the rate increases to 1 in 38 for ages 40-59, and 1 in 15 for ages 60-69. About 186,000 new prostate cancer cases occurred in 2008, with 28,600 deaths.
The prostate is part of a man’s reproductive system. It is located in front of the rectum, below the bladder, surrounding the urethra, the tube through which urine is excreted. In most cases, prostate cancer is relatively slow growing, while some men experience rapid, aggressive forms of prostate cancer.
Risk factors for prostate cancer include:
- Age – More than 65% of prostate cancers are diagnosed in men over the age of 65.
- Race – African American men are 60% more likely to develop prostate cancer when compared with Caucasian and Hispanic men. Prostate cancer among Asian/Pacific Islander men is less common.
- Family history/genetics – Men with a father or brother with prostate cancer is twice as likely to develop the disease. Researchers have found specific regions on certain chromosomes that are linked to risk of prostate cancer. The risk increases with the number of genetic changes in these regions.
Research has shown an association between prostate cancer and vitamin D deficiency.
Prostate cancer and vitamin D
Researchers from the Medical University at South Carolina administered 4,000 IU/day of vitamin D for one year to 44 men with low risk prostate cancer. After 12 months, 60% of the men showed a decrease in the number of positive core biopsies or a decrease in their Gleason scores (cancers with high Gleason scores are more aggressive), or both. 34% of the men no longer had any positive biopsy cores. The Vitamin D Council covered this research extensively in our blog: A step in the right direction: vitamin D and prostate cancer.
Past studies have also shown UV exposure has an effect on lowering prostate cancer risk.
How can you help?
Talk to your friends and family members about prostate cancer and the importance of screening for the disease. Encourage those at risk to eat a healthy diet, avoid smoking, eat more fish, and of course keep their vitamin D levels up!
The Prostate Cancer Foundation and the Tie Society are joining forces for the first “Blue Tie Day” on September 20, 2012, encouraging men around the country to wear blue ties in honor of prostate cancer survivors and those battling the disease. Their goal is to raise awareness, education and fundraising dollars for advanced prostate research. For more information visit: http://bluetieday.tiesociety.com/info/