Take Up the Fight Against Prostate Cancer

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Prostate cancer is the most common cancer among men in Hawaiʻi. Compared to other ethnic groups, Native Hawaiian men were more likely to have an aggressive form of prostate cancer and succumb to this disease.

Genetics may account for about 20% of prostate cancer cases. Most are diagnosed in people 65 years and older. The good news is that a healthy lifestyle may make a difference in preventing and fighting prostate cancer, even if you have increased genetic risk.

Nutrients in your diet can affect how your genes function. Omega-3 fatty acids lower inflammatory chemicals and enzymes involved in promoting growth of cancer cells of the prostate and other parts of the body. Sources of omega-3 fatty acids include fatty fish, such as ahi, aku, ʻopelu, salmon, sardines, limu, and flax seed.

Polyphenols, a category of chemicals that occur naturally in plants, influence prostate cancer cell development in multiple ways. There are many types of polyphenols, each with different benefits. Green tea and red/purple grapes help to suppress or slow tumor growth and even kill cancer cells. Tomatoes, particularly tomato sauce, acts as an antioxidant, protecting cells from turning cancerous in the first place. ʻŌlena (turmeric) and soy (tofu, edamame, soy milk) work to deactivate genes involved in cancer growth.

Selenium and zinc, found in fish, limu, soy and other beans, nuts, and mushrooms, help repair damaged DNA, preventing genetic mutations that can lead to prostate cancer. Taking a multivitamin supplement daily is highly recommended, as it contains these minerals and other vitamins that all play a role in cancer prevention in general.

Dairy products and other high calcium foods have been connected to increased risk of prostate cancer. This includes milk, cheese, ice cream, and butter. Research has shown that even skim and low-fat dairy milk should be avoided.

Getting regular exercise reduces risk of prostate cancer by regulating the hormones involved in the development of prostate cancer. Exercise strengthens the immune system, improving its ability to detect and destroy cancer cells.

Stress management is another critical component in preventing prostate cancer. Chronic stress increases cortisol, which in turn decreases testosterone production in the body. Low testosterone can cause weight gain, insulin resistance, and inflammation – all risk factors for prostate cancer. In addition, low testosterone may cause an increase in the size and density of the prostate gland, additional risk factors for prostate cancer.

Managing body weight and decreasing body fat may be one of the most important things you can do to decrease prostate cancer risk. Increasing body fat encourages cancer development, growth, progression, and survival. It creates imbalances and inflammation in the body that contribute to DNA damage, increasing the risk of cell mutations that lead to cancer. Following a healthy diet, exercising, managing stress, and getting enough sleep are all connected to metabolism, the ability to lose body fat.

Kāne: remember to get regular prostate cancer screenings as well. Prioritize your health both for your quality of life and for your ʻohana.”