How much do daily habits like diet and exercise affect your risk for prostate cancer? Much more than you might think. Research has shown that poor diet and not being active are two key factors that can increase the risk of cancer. The good news is that you can do something about this – thorough lifestyle changes.
According to the American Cancer Society, besides quitting smoking, some of the most important things you can do to help reduce your cancer risk are:
- Get to and stay at a healthy weight throughout life.
- Be physically active on a regular basis.
- Make healthy food choices with a focus on plant-based foods.
The evidence for this is strong. The World Cancer Research Fund estimates that about 20% of all cancers diagnosed in the US are related to body fatness, physical inactivity, excess alcohol consumption, and/or poor nutrition, and thus could also be prevented.
Control Your Weight
Getting to and staying at a healthy weight is important to reduce the risk of cancer and other chronic diseases, such as heart disease and diabetes. Being overweight or obese increases the risk of several cancers, including prostate, colon and rectum, pancreas, and kidney, among others.
Go For Healthy Eating Habits
Instead of focusing on specific foods, healthcare experts recommend overall healthy eating habits, such as:
- Eat at least five servings of fruits and vegetables every day. Go for those with deep, bright color.
- Choose whole-grain bread instead of white bread, and choose whole-grain pasta and cereals.
- Limit your consumption of red meat, including beef, pork, lamb, and goat, and processed meats, such as bologna and hot dogs. Fish, skinless poultry, beans, and eggs are healthier sources of protein.
- Choose healthful fats, such as olive oil, nuts (almonds, walnuts, pecans), and avocados. Limit saturated fats from dairy and other animal products. Avoid partially hydrogenated fats (trans fats), which are in many fast foods and packaged foods.
- Avoid sugar-sweetened drinks, such as sodas and many fruit juices. Eat sweets as an occasional treat.
- Cut down on salt. Choose foods low in sodium by reading and comparing food labels. Limit the use of canned, processed, and frozen foods.
- Watch portion sizes. Eat slowly, and stop eating when you are full.
In addition a healthy diet, staying active can help. Regular exercise reduces your risk of developing some urology conditions, including certain types of cancers. And although relatively few studies have directly assessed the impact of exercise on prostate health, those that have been done have concluded, for the most part, that exercise is beneficial.
For Prostate Cancer Patients
Exercise and physical activity is important for all, but can be even more important for those fighting prostate cancer.
By improving your fitness level, it will help you:
- Overcome side effects of therapy
- Improve your general health
- Help to reduce fatigue, associated with treatment
- Slow the growth of the tumor
Exercise will also help regain muscle mass, making you stronger. It assists in combating weight/fat gain and the more muscle you have, the higher rate of metabolism, so you can burn fat even when just sitting around.
Reduced testosterone levels increase the risk of osteoporosis or bone thinning, and the best way to reduce that risk is with a good diet that includes calcium and weight bearing exercise.
It is not uncommon for men diagnosed with cancer to feel depressed, but depression can also be a side effect of therapy. Exercise has been shown to be beneficial in depression because it positively affects the neurotransmitters in the brain.
Recent clinical studies revealed that exercise reduced fatigue in men with prostate cancer, even after radiotherapy, which is known to cause fatigue. The men studied in these clinical trials also reported an improvement in their quality of life and feeling of strength.