This post is part of a National Cancer Prevention Month series that provide details about how to reduce the possibility of developing cancer. Older posts have discussed lifestyle, environmental factors, and ways that women can prevent cancer. Today’s article offers things men can do to prevent certain types of cancer.
According to Cancer Prevention and Control Department of the Centers for Disease Control, male cancer rates reach approximately 100 diagnoses out of every 100,000 men annually. Prostate cancer and colorectal cancer are among the leading causes of cancer death for men in the U.S.. The true numbers may be even higher, as there are many new cases of cancer that go undiagnosed.
Fortunately, men can reduce the likelihood of developing cancer by taking a few preventative measures, such as making some minor adjustments to their daily lives. Here are some ways backed up by scientific research that could help decrease this deadly risk.
Break a Sweat
According to a study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, men – and especially men over 65 years old – who exercise regularly have a lower risk of developing prostate cancer than those who don’t. One possible explanation is that physical activity boosts blood circulation as well as the natural circulation of male hormones like testosterone and androgens, which results in better functioning of the male organs.
Additionally, according to the Mayo Clinic, a Body Mass Index of 30 or higher, which falls within the obese/overweight range, is associated with elevated risk of cancer in males. The presence of excess fat in the body decreases circulation and oxygenation of organs and puts an enormous stress in the body, increasing significantly the risk of developing inflammation and cancer.
Based on this evidence, experts agree that men should incorporate mild and gradual exercise to their lives instead of heavy, high-intensity exercise, which may expose the body to unnecessary stress and pain.
Watch Testosterone Levels
Although there are not many wide-scale studies examining the potential effects of testosterone, a few studies have found that testosterone replacement therapy in older men may slightly elevate the risk of developing prostate or testicular cancer than those who do not have such treatments.
Testosterone replacement therapy is usually given in older men who experience low-testosterone symptoms, like low sperm count and lose of energy/fatigue after the age of 65. If you have a family history of cancer, it’s best to discuss the risks with a doctor before seeking out such therapy.
Also, stay away from the testosterone supplements sold over the counter. At best, these will likely have no measurable effect on your body and are a waste of money; at worst, they could be contributing to your risk of developing cancer.
Check for Lumps
Men have a reputation for … well, touching themselves. At least once a month there’s a legitimate medical reason for them to do so, according to the American Cancer Society.
The procedure for checking for testicular cancer is fairly straightforward:
- Hold one testicle between your thumbs and fingers of both hands and roll it gently between your fingers
- Look and feel for any hard lumps, smooth rounded bumps, or any change in the size, shape, or consistency of the testicles.
If you find anything out of the ordinary, contact your doctor immediately. Your doctor should also check for testicular cancer during your annual physical exam – which every man goes to without any prompting whatsoever, right?
It might go without saying, but we’ll say it anyway: This sort of self testing should be done in private, such as while taking a shower.
Men are troubled by snoring at a rate of about 50% more than women. As it happens, snoring is also linked with poor circulation and slightly increased cancer rate.
If you habitually snore, some things you can do include:
- Losing weight (see “Break a Sweat” above!)
- Reducing alcohol and tobacco consumption (which can reduce the risk of cancer as well)
- Try different sleep positions
- Use over-the-counter options to help keep your nasal passage open (e.g., Breathe Right Strips)
If none of these solutions help, seek medical help – don’t just hope the snoring goes away. Treatment options for snoring include mouthpieces, CPAP machines, implants, or several types of minor surgery.
The consumption of certain healthy foods has been linked with lower prostate cancer in males. Tomatoes in particular are an excellent source of the potent antioxidant lycopene, which has been associated with a lower risk of prostate cancer among men.
Mayo Clinic supports that a diet that is low in trans fat – found in processed meats, fast food, fries, and refined vegetable oils – to lower the risk of developing prostate cancer. Healthy fats like omega 6 and omega 3 fatty acids, found in fatty fish, avocados and olive and flaxseed oils, may decrease the likelihood of developing prostate cancer.
Other foods and substances which have been linked with a preventive male cancer action, according to some studies, are green tea and foods rich in isoflavones, which are mostly found in chickpeas, lentils, alfalfa sprouts, soy, and peanuts.