Although the causes of prostate cancer may not be known, there are several clear risk factors for the disease. Several factors—such as age, heredity, and race—are beyond your control. Others—such as diet and obesity—can be managed through healthy lifestyle choices.
Age is the single most important risk factor for prostate cancer. The disease is extremely rare in men younger than 45 but is the most common cancer diagnosed in men older than 70.
A man whose father, brother, or son was diagnosed with prostate cancer is more likely to be diagnosed and should begin screenings at an earlier age.
African-American men have a higher risk of prostate cancer than any other ethnic group, and they are also more likely to be diagnosed with advanced prostate cancer and to die from the disease. Asian-American, Hispanic, and Native-American men are less likely to get prostate cancer than non-Hispanic white men; the reasons for this are not known.
A diet high in red meat and high-fat dairy products and low in fruits and vegetables increases the risk for prostate cancer and other cancers, but no conclusive studies have been done on exactly which aspects of this diet increase risk or why.
There are several types of cell abnormalities that are detected with a microscope and are associated with an increased risk of prostate cancer. These changes—known as intraepithelial neoplasia, acinar proliferation, or inflammatory atrophy—are seen in advance of prostate cancer developing in the gland. These conditions can only be diagnosed via biopsy, which would only be done if another test indicated prostate problems.
Obesity does not increase prostate-cancer risk, but obese men who are diagnosed are more likely to have advanced cancer and to die from the disease.