Prostate Cancer Overview

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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 it isn’t possible to prevent most cases of the disease. 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 our document American Cancer Society Guidelines on Nutrition and Physical Activity for Cancer Prevention.

Vitamin, mineral, and other supplements

Some earlier studies had suggested that taking supplements of vitamin E or the mineral 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 any vitamins or other supplements, talk with your doctor.

Medicines

Two drugs used to treat benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), finasteride (Proscar®) and dutasteride (Avodart®), have been studied to see if they might also help lower prostate cancer risk. The study results did not show a clear advantage of taking these drugs, and so they are not often used just to lower the risk of prostate cancer.

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 and supplements are now being studied as well. But so far, none has been proven to lower prostate cancer risk.

For more detailed information, see our document Prostate Cancer: Prevention and Early Detection.


Last Medical Review: 01/09/2015
Last Revised: 01/30/2015