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Prostate Cancer

Risk Factors for Prostate Cancer

There are some risk factors that can increase the odds of developing prostate cancer. Some of these factors can be controlled to minimize your risk. Other factors, such as age or heredity, are uncontrollable variables, but can motivate you to regularly see a doctor.

What you can do to improve your health

Eating a diet that is low in fat may reduce your risk for prostate cancer. Exercise may help by affecting the hormones that promote prostate cancer. Moderate exercise and a lower fat intake have health benefits for your heart as well. Consult your doctor for more information on how your eating and exercise habits can help you maintain your health.

Listed below are some questions commonly asked about risk factors for Prostate Cancer:

  1. What are the most common risk factors for prostate cancer?
  2. Does a previous history of undescended (but repaired) testicles increase the risk for prostate cancer?
  3. Does a previous history of vasectomy increase the risk for prostate cancer?
  4. How does my family history for prostate cancer affect my risk for developing prostate cancer?
  5. How does the amount of fat in my diet affect my risk for prostate cancer?
  6. Does taking calcium carbonate increase the risk for prostate cancer?
  7. Do high levels of testosterone increase my risk for prostate cancer?
  8. Does bicycle riding increase my risk for prostate cancer?
  9. How does sexual activity affect my risk for prostate cancer?

What are the most common risk factors for prostate cancer?

Your risk of getting prostate cancer increases as you get older, have African ancestry, or have a family history of prostate cancer in a close relative. There may also be an increased risk of prostate cancer associated with eating a diet high in animal fat and low in fresh fruits, vegetables, and fish, and being exposed to cadmium or radiation.

Does a previous history of undescended (but repaired) testicles increase the risk for prostate cancer?

There are no associated risks with undescended testicles with regard to the development of prostate cancer.

Does a previous history of vasectomy increase the risk for prostate cancer?

There are 2 studies that have shown a relationship between vasectomy and the development of prostate cancer, but there are have been dozens more that have shown no correlation. Most physicians feel there is no relationship.

How does my family history for prostate cancer affect my risk for developing prostate cancer?

If a first degree relative (i.e. father, brother) has prostate cancer, particularly at an age less than 60 years old, there is an increased risk for prostate cancer in the individual.  These individuals should have a PSA test and digital rectal exam on a yearly basis starting at age 40.

How does the amount of fat in my diet affect my risk for prostate cancer?

There is a belief that a high fat diet typical of Western societies is associated with a higher rate of prostate cancer. The association of prostate cancer and fat consumption is based on observations and some animal experiments, though a true cause and effect relationship has not been established.  Much work needs to be done in this area. What is important in any diet is to have moderation in what one eats.

Does taking calcium carbonate increase the risk for prostate cancer?

Administration of calcium carbonate does not present an increased risk for prostate cancer.  There were some reports about milk intake and prostate cancer, but this may relate more to the fat content of milk rather than calcium.

Do high levels of testosterone increase my risk for prostate cancer?

There is no evidence to suggest that high blood levels of testosterone can cause prostate cancer.

Does bicycle riding increase my risk for prostate cancer?

Bicycle riding does not cause prostate cancer. To clarify a common point of confusion, Lance Armstrong had testicular cancer (which also is not related to bicycle riding or prostate cancer).

How does sexual activity affect my risk for prostate cancer?

There is some evidence that individuals who have had multiple sexual partners in their teens may be at a higher risk of prostate cancer as they age, but this increase is small. Generally, though, there does not appear to be any relationship between sexual activity and prostate health, or the growth or spread of prostate cancer.

More articles about prostate cancer:

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This article is a NetWellness exclusive.

Last Reviewed: Mar 10, 2006

Martin I Resnick, MD Martin I Resnick, MD
Formerly, Professor of Urology
School of Medicine
Case Western Reserve University