Protect your prostate

Protect your prostate

Cancer registries in India indicate a rising trend in prostate cancer incidence particularly in the urban rather than rural areas. It is one of the leading types of cancer prevalent in metros like Delhi, Pune, Kolkata and Thiruvananthapuram. Incidentally, poor lifestyle choices are one of the leading causes for the increase in the number of prostate cancer cases.

The type of cancer we suffer from and the lifestyle we follow are closely linked to each other. Research has proven that sedentary lifestyle can trigger sleeping cancer cells to become active and aggressive. A positive and healthy lifestyle prevents these cells from shooting back to action; it helps the body maintain that much-needed balance.

Prostate cancer affects the prostate gland, which produces some of the fluid in semen and plays a role in urine control in men. Prostate cancer demands a need to reduce the impact of stress and re-establish harmony in a person’s physiology and stimulate the body’s natural defences.

Symptoms

Although the symptoms of prostate cancer are not obvious in the initial stages, some of the common signs include frequent urges to urinate, difficulty in urinating, blood in urine, difficulty achieving or maintaining an erection and bone pain, often in the spine, femur, pelvis, or ribs.

Recently, the Word Cancer Research Fund came up with eight lifestyle changes that significantly help reduce the risk of developing prostate cancer:

Be lean, but not underweight.

Take up at least 30 minutes of physical activity in a day.

Consume more vegetables, whole grains, fruits and legumes.

Avoid using supplements promising prostate cure.

On a broader note, this is what you must do to strike the right balance:

Maximise the intake of fruits and vegetables, which are an excellent source of antioxidants, polyphenols, vitamins, minerals, and fibre.

Choose plant protein over animal protein. Eat whole and natural foods, which help lower the level of testosterone and lower prostate-specific antigen scores. Some foods and their components have anti-cancer properties like lycopene, turmeric/curcumin, folic acid, and vitamin D. Avoid foods with additives and those with high sugar content that might harm your prostate.

Consume green tea, which contains antioxidants like catechins that can slow the cancer cell growth and kill cancer cells. Men who drink green tea can reduce the risk of developing prostate cancer by almost 70%, compared to men who don’t drink green tea.

Maintain a healthy body weight. Being obese is associated with a higher risk of prostate cancer, lower long-term survival rate and more aggressive forms of the disease.

Exercise regularly, as it not only slows down the spread of prostate cancer, but also has a preventive effect on prostatitis and other prostate-related diseases.

Manage stress, as long-term anxiety can weaken the immune system.

However, remember that adopting proper lifestyle reduces risk of prostate cancer, but does not completely eliminate it. If you are over 50, or have a family history of prostate cancer, you must undergo a yearly rectal examination and prostate-specific antigen test.

(The author is senior consultant, Radiation Oncology — Dharamshila Narayana Superspeciality Hospital)

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