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Prostate Cancer Causes & Risk Factors

We don’t always know what causes prostate cancer. Sometimes, men with no family history or risk factors can get the disease. However, there are certain known causes, and you can take steps to lower your risk for getting prostate cancer.

Prostate Cancer: Causes And Risk Factors

Based on what we do know about prostate cancer causes, it may be possible to prevent some cases. Common risk factors include:

  • Age. Age is the strongest risk factor for prostate cancer. The chance of getting prostate cancer increases quickly after a man reaches age 50. Almost two out of every three prostate cancers are found in men older than 65 years of age.
  • Race. For unknown reasons, prostate cancer is more common in African-American men than in men of other races. African-American men are also more likely to have an advanced case and are more likely to die of the disease. Prostate cancer occurs less frequently in Asian-American and Hispanic/Latino men than in non-Hispanic whites, though we do not know why.
  • Geography. Prostate cancer is most common in North America, northwestern Europe and a few other places. It is less common in Asia, Africa, Central and South America. The reasons for this are not clear.
  • Family history. Prostate cancer seems to run in some families. Men with close family members who have had prostate cancer are more likely to get it, especially if their relatives were young when diagnosed with the disease.
  • Genes. Scientists have found some inherited genes that seem to raise prostate cancer risk, though they probably account for only a small number of cases overall.
  • Diet. The exact role of diet in prostate cancer is not clear, but men who eat a lot of red meat or high-fat dairy products seem to have increased risk of getting prostate cancer. These men also tend to eat fewer fruits and vegetables, which may also be a contributing factor.
  • Obesity. Some studies have found that obese men may be at greater risk for having more advanced prostate cancer and of dying from the disease.
  • Exercise. Some studies found that high levels of physical activity, particularly in older men, may lower the risk of advanced prostate cancer. However, more research is needed.
Infection and inflammation of the prostate. Some studies suggest inflammation of the prostate gland may be linked to an increased risk of prostate cancer, but other studies have not found such a link.