What do actors Gary Cooper and Dennis Hopper, musician Frank Zappa and half of the Abbott and Costello comedy duo Bud Abbott have in common?
No idea? Here’s a hint. They’re on the same list as AFL legend Ted Whitten.
Given that the E.J. Whitten Legends Game was played in Melbourne late last month, it’s possible you may now realise that all these men died as a result of prostate cancer.
And in Prostate Cancer Awareness Month, we’re here to do our bit.
According to the World Cancer Research Fund, prostate cancer is the second most commonly occurring cancer in men and the fourth most commonly occurring cancer overall. Annually, 1.1 million men are diagnosed with prostate cancer and more than 300,000 die.
And Australia is in the top 20 countries with the highest rates of prostate cancer.
The Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia says that more men die of prostate cancer than women from breast cancer. It says the cancer spreads quickly and should never be considered dormant or non-threatening.
To understand more about this cancer, you should know a bit about the prostate and what it does.
The prostate is a gland found only in men. It is just beneath the bladder, between the penis and rectum. The urethra tube runs out of the bladder, through the centre of the prostate, then to the penis, providing the path for urination. Prostate muscles help to expel sperm from the body while secreting fluids that protect and nourish the sperm.
So what are the risk factors that can increase the likelihood of prostate cancer, according to the Prostate Cancer Foundation?
- Age over 65 – this is the main risk factor for prostate cancer. The older a man gets, the more likely he will develop prostate cancer. This disease is rare in men under 45.
- Family history – one’s risk of prostate cancer is higher if you have a father, brother or son with prostate cancer.
- Obesity – Many studies have shown that obese men have a greater risk of dying from prostate cancer, developing a more aggressive cancer and experiencing a recurrence after surgery or radiation therapy.
- Diet – Men who consume high levels of fat are more likely not only to develop prostate cancer but also to develop a more aggressive form of the disease. A heart healthy diet with a focus on vegetables and fruit with every meal is recommended.
- Lifestyle – Stress and lack of exercise can cause many common diseases. Exercise as regularly as possible and try to identify and reduce the stress factors in your life.
To improve your chances of not being the one in six who will contract prostate cancer, exercise regularly, reduce the stress in your life, maintain a healthy diet and talk to your doctor about the tests that are available to assist with early detection. These tests should be done every 12 months as part of a routine physical check-up.
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Disclaimer: This article contains general information about health issues and is not advice. For health advice, consult your medical practitioner.