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Prostate cancer: Risk factors and prevention

UMEAA, SWEDEN. Professor Henrik Gronberg, MD of Umeaa University in Sweden presents an excellent review of current prostate cancer research. It is estimated that over 500,000 new cases of prostate cancer was diagnosed worldwide in the year 2000. The incidence varies widely from less than 2 per 100,000 in China to 137 per 100,000 among African-Americans. It is clear that there is both a genetic and lifestyle factor involved in prostate cancer risk. Japanese men, for example, have a four times greater incidence of prostate cancer if they reside in the USA than if they reside in Japan.

Several studies have found a clear association between the western lifestyle and an increased risk of prostate cancer. A high intake of fat, meat and dairy products has been found to be particularly detrimental. Consuming fried or charcoal-grilled red meat has been clearly associated with increased risk. A high intake of alpha-linolenic acid and calcium from dairy products has both been associated with higher risk. A Swedish study found that men who consumed 600 mg/day of calcium from dairy products had a 32% greater risk than those consuming 150 mg/day or less.

Smoking, degree of physical activity, and alcohol consumption have not been associated with an increased risk and neither has vasectomy.

Soybean products (soy milk or tofu) have been found to have a preventive effect as has a high intake of tomato products, lycopene, selenium, and vitamin E. Supplementation with selenium reduced risk by 66% in one study while vitamin E supplementation lowered it by 40%. A large study involving 32,400 men is currently underway to confirm the benefits of vitamin E and selenium supplementation. Results are expected by 2013.
Gronberg, Henrik. Prostate cancer epidemiology. The Lancet, Vol. 361, March 8, 2003, pp. 859-64

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