Prostate Cancer: Causes & Risk Factors

Health Monitor Staff

At this time, scientists are unsure what causes prostate cancer, but they do know that certain risk factors are linked to the condition. Here are some of the known prostate cancer risk factors, according to the American Cancer Society:

Age: Almost two out of every three prostate cancers are found in men over age 65; however, it also occurs in men over 50 and is found rarely in men under age 40.

Race: Although the reason is unclear, race does play a role in the incidence of prostate cancer. Studies have shown that prostate cancer is most common among African American men, and it occurs less often in Asian American and Hispanic/Latino men than in non-Hispanic whites.

Family history: Men with close family members (father or brother) who’ve had prostate cancer are more likely to have it themselves, especially if their relatives were young when they had the condition. (The risk is higher when a brother has had prostate cancer than when a father has.)

Genes: Scientists have found some inherited genes that seem to raise prostate cancer risk, but it is likely they account for only a small number of cases overall. Genetic testing for most of these genes is not yet available, and more study is needed in this area.

Diet: The exact role of diet in prostate cancer is not clear; however, men who eat a lot of red meat or high-fat dairy products seem to have a higher risk of prostate cancer. These men also tend to eat fewer fruits and vegetables. Doctors aren’t sure which, if any, of these factors causes the increased risk.

May 2013