Warren Buffett’s and actor Ryan O’Neal’s announcements this week that they have prostate cancer got us thinking about the prostate health of the men in our lives. Who is at risk? When should they be screened? Here’s what we found out.
Prostate cancer is the most common form of cancer in men, aside from skin cancer, and the second-leading cancer killer of men. If it’s detected early—while it is still confined to the prostate gland—successful treatment is almost a certainty. Prostate cancers can grow at different rates. Aggressive cancers need quick treatment, but some grow so slowly that they never require treatment.
It turns out that there is no current consensus among the medical community that the risks of prostate cancer screenings outweigh the benefits. This means that men need to be proactive about discussing their prostate health with their doctors, who will weigh factors like age, race, family history and diet before recommending a PSA blood test, which can detect the possibility of prostate cancer.
Other than going to the doctor, there are simple lifestyle changes men can make to help prevent prostate cancer. Studies have shown that vegetarians have lower risk of prostate cancer, as well as men who have healthy levels of vitamin D. Drinking green tea and eating soy may also reduce the risk. And, of course, exercising and maintaining a healthy weight are always important.