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Risk Factors

In Australia, the lifetime risk of being diagnosed with prostate cancer is about 1 in 9 men with 3 in a 100 men dying from the disease.

All men are at risk of developing prostate cancer however some men are at more risk than others. Apart from being male, the other risk factors for developing prostate cancer are: age, family history, diet and race.

Age poses the greatest risk of developing prostate cancer in that 2/3 of all men diagnosed with prostate cancer are over the age of 50. Older men have a higher risk of developing prostate cancer than younger men.

Diet has been implicated as a risk for developing prostate cancer. Research has demonstrated that diets high in fat may significantly increase the risk of prostate cancer. Prostate cancer is more common in developed countries with a diet high in fat, such as the United States, Australia and England and is less common in countries with a low fat intake and diet rich in rice and vegetables, such as China. It has been suggested in several studies that diets high in lycopenes such as tomatoes and other antioxidants may potentially lower the risk of developing prostate cancer.

Race, environmental and lifestyle factors have also been implicated in the risk for developing prostate cancer. African American men have a 60% greater risk of developing prostate cancer than white American men and when diagnosed, it tends to be more advanced. Japanese men and African American men have a low risk of developing prostate cancer when in their native countries, however if they migrate to America then their risk of developing prostate cancer increases. The exact cause for this is unclear and it has been suggested that environmental factors such as a high fat diet, less exposure to sun or smoking may be involved.

Family history is the most important risk factor for developing prostate cancer.

If one first degree relative has prostate cancer then the risk of developing prostate cancer increases to 20%. If two first degree relatives have prostate cancer this risk increase to 40% and if three first degree relatives have prostate cancer then the risk increases significantly and approaches 100%.

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