The blue ribbon cause
Everyone is familiar with the folded pink ribbon placed on a lapel as a reminder that we need to find a cure for breast cancer, a disease which is devastating the female half of our society. However, much less commonly worn is its counterpart, symbolized by a folded light blue ribbon for prostate cancer, a disease affecting men in even greater numbers than breast cancer is affecting women.
In case you don’t know, the prostate gland is part of the reproductive system in males. It is small, only the size of a walnut, but it is important because it produces a fluid that is part of the vehicle for sperm to travel during intercourse. Although a man is more likely to develop cancer of the prostate after the age of 65, cancer can occur at any age. The good news is that if the cancer is detected before it spreads to other parts of the body, the survival rate is very high.
Do they know why we get it?
As with any cancer, no one knows for sure, but most health experts believe that lifestyle choices have a lot to do with the development of all types of cancer. Since it is related to reproduction, it would also make sense that prostate cancer is affected by hormone levels in a man’s body.
Other factors that may correlate with the likelihood of developing prostate cancer are family history and ethnic background. Men of African American heritage at are a higher risk of developing cancer of the prostate than men of Caucasian descent.
Lifestyle can make a difference
Since most health experts believe that lifestyle factors such as diet and exercise can affect your risk of developing cancer, it makes sense to do what you can to help your body avoid trouble. Most of these recommendations are good healthy eating strategies for anyone to follow, regardless of your cancer risk!
Here is a list of some recommendations that may help:
-Get tested by your doctor, especially if you are in one of the groups who are at a higher risk, or if you have persistent symptoms.
-Eat colorful fruits and vegetables, particularly tomatoes and tomato sauce, which contain a phytonutrient called “lycopene” that has been linked with lowering the risk of developing prostate cancer. It is also found in watermelon, papaya and pink grapefruit.
-Choose fiber foods since it helps your body to remove excess hormones and toxins from your system.
-Cut down on red meat consumption. Even though you’ve been told that “real men don’t eat quiche,” there are a lot of great protein sources that you can include in place of the red meat in your diet. Over consumption of red meat has been correlated with a higher risk of developing cancer, in addition to other health problems.
-Eat fish once or twice a week, especially smaller species, which will have fewer of the toxins than their larger relatives.
-Consider taking a good quality natural source multivitamin to fill in the gaps that may exist in your nutritional status. All the vitamins and minerals work together to support your immune system to keep you healthy and cancer free, but if you are deficient, you may increase your risk of becoming ill.
-Don’t overdo on dairy products since too much calcium and animal fats may contribute to your chance of developing cancer of the prostate.
-Drink green tea since studies have shown that it may actually help your body fight cancer.
-Include pomegranate in your diet, since it contains phytonutrients that have been linked with a decreased prostate cancer risk
-Get daily moderate exercise, since it has been shown that aerobic activity reduces your chances of getting cancer.
It would be remiss to discuss this topic without providing a list of warning signs or symptoms. Most of the symptoms are related to changes noticed during urination.
-Trouble with starting urination or stopping at will
-Frequent urination, particularly at night
-Painful urination, such as a burning sensation
-Blood in the urine or blood in the semen
-Weak urine flow
-Problems getting or maintaining erection
-Pain during intercourse
-Pain in the lower back, thighs or hips
Only your doctor can give you advice about the best treatment for cancer of the prostate, depending on your situation and factors including your age and how advanced the cancer has become. The most common treatments for prostate cancer are surgery, radiation and cryoablation.
One treatment that has been receiving some real interest lately is something called High Intensity Focused Ultrasound or HIFU. This procedure uses ultrasound technology to treat localized prostate cancer and is much less invasive than surgery or other treatments. Patients treated using HIFU also have fewer complications and long-term effects.
In addition, HIFU can be repeated, when needed, such as if the first treatment fails to remove all of the cancer cells.
Doing your part
Whether you have been diagnosed with prostate cancer or are in one of the high-risk groups, or just want to lessen your risk, it is important to implement the lifestyle changes listed above. You can’t change your family history or your ethnicity, but you do have control over what food you eat and how active you are each day.
By making better choices, you can help yourself to live long and feel well.