Prostate Cancer

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Causes, Risk Factors, and Prevention TOPICS

Can prostate cancer be prevented?

The exact cause of prostate cancer is not known, so at this time it isn’t possible to prevent most cases of the disease. Many risk factors such as age, race, and family history can’t be controlled. But based on what we do know, there are some things you can do that might lower your risk of prostate cancer.

Body weight, physical activity, and diet

The effects of body weight, physical activity, and diet on prostate cancer risk are not clear, but there are things you can do that might lower your risk, such as:

  • Eating at least 2½ cups of a wide variety of vegetables and fruits each day.
  • Being physically active.
  • Staying at a healthy weight.

For more information, see the American Cancer Society Guidelines on Nutrition and Physical Activity for Cancer Prevention.

Vitamin, mineral, and other supplements

Some earlier studies had suggested that taking certain vitamin or mineral supplements, such as vitamin E or selenium, might lower prostate cancer risk. But in a large study, neither vitamin E nor selenium was found to lower prostate cancer risk.

Several studies are now looking at the possible effects of soy proteins (called isoflavones) on prostate cancer risk. The results of these studies are not yet available.

Taking any supplements can have both risks and benefits. Before starting vitamins or other supplements, talk with your doctor.


Some drugs might help reduce the risk of prostate cancer.

5-alpha reductase inhibitors

Two drugs called 5-alpha reductase inhibitors are used to treat benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), a non-cancerous growth of the prostate:

  • Finasteride (Proscar®)
  • Dutasteride (Avodart®)

These drugs have also been studied to see if they can lower prostate cancer risk, but it’s not clear if the benefits will outweigh the risks for most men. Still, men who want to know more about these drugs should discuss them with their doctors.


Some research suggests that men who take aspirin daily for a long time might have a lower risk of getting and dying from prostate cancer. But more research is needed to show if the possible benefits outweigh the risks.

Other drugs

Other drugs and dietary supplements that might help lower prostate cancer risk are now being tested in clinical trials. But so far, none have been proven to do so.

For more detailed information on these topics, see Prostate Cancer Prevention and Early Detection.

Last Medical Review: 12/22/2014
Last Revised: 03/12/2015