By Dr. Marc Bubbs ND, BSc, CSCS, ART
This year, an estimated 24,600 Canadian men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer and 4,300 men will die from the disease. On average, 470 Canadian men are diagnosed with prostate cancer every week. Prostate cancer is the most common cancer among Canadian men, as one in seven will develop the cancer during their lifetime. However, there is good news: the five-year survival rate for prostate cancer is over 95% and there is a lot you can do to reduce your risk.
The prostate is located just below the bladder and is a major gland in the male reproductive system. It is approximately the size of a walnut and surrounds a section of the urethra, the tube that empties urine from your bladder. The gland produces fluid that makes up part of the semen. Possible warming signs of prostate cancer development or prostate enlargement include; weak or interrupted urination, frequent urination (especially at night), pain or burning on urination, blood in the urine or semen, painful ejaculation, or pain in the back, hips, or pelvis that doesn’t go away. You should consult your GP or Naturopathic Doctor if you experience any of these symptoms.
So who is most at risk of developing prostate cancer? Well, no one thing in isolation causes prostate cancer. The latest research has highlighted several factorfs that can lead to the progression of the disease. Some factors, such as diet and weight, can be controlled, while others such as age, environment, ethnicity and family history cannot be changed. The risk of developing prostate cancer increases with age. A man’s risk rises rapidly after the age of 50, with more than 80% of all prostate cancers diagnosed in men over 65 years old.
Environment also plays a role in the disease. There are links between exposure to insecticides, lead, and asbestos to prostate cancer development. Lead damages prostate cancer cells and depletes zinc levels, a nutrient that protects the prostate. Family genetics also accounts for 10-15% of prostate cancer development. Men with a first-degree relative (father or brother) with prostate cancer have a two-fold increased risk of developing prostate cancer during their lifetime. For men with two first-degree relatives, the risk rises to five-fold, and for men with three or more the risk is extremely high at almost 100%.
So what can you do to prevent the progression of prostate cancer? Overweight and obese men are at a higher risk of developing all forms of cancer, including prostate cancer. The New England Journal of Medicine in 2003 concluded that being overweight or obese significantly increases the risk of dying from cancer and gaining weight early in life puts men with prostate cancer at a greater risk because they are more likely to have a more aggressive form of the disease. In March 2007, the medical journal Cancer found that overweight men are 2.5 fold more likely to die of cancers versus men of the same age and cancer. It’s time to take charge of your health and start losing weight today.
Diet is another controllable risk factor with a profound impact. The World Cancer Research Fund has declared that 30-40% of all cancers could be prevented with reasonable dietary modifications, physical exercise and maintaining a normal bodyweight. This is amazing news. The question begs, what would happen under a more personalized and sophisticated protocol? In April 2007, the Canadian Medical Association Journal published new guidelines that recommend all Canadian adults have their waist circumference measured during check-ups. A waistline of more than 37 inches is considered a risk factor for disease, especially heart disease, diabetes, and high blood pressure. As well, the typical Western diet – high in ‘bad’ saturated fats and processed foods but low in fiber – also predisposes men to prostate cancer and is correlated with increased incidence of the disease.
Gentlemen, take control of your health today! Dr Marc Bubbs ND is accepting new patients and is happy to talk to you about a truly preventive plan to keep you healthy and fit! The Integrative Health Institute is located downtown Toronto at the corner of King and Sherbourne St.