The disturbing stats for this half of the human race

Here’s how you can reduce your likelihood of becoming a cancer statistic.

The disturbing stats for this half of the human race

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.


    To make a comment, please register or login
    Horace Cope
    23rd Sep 2019
    Please get an annual blood test, it won't stop you getting prostate cancer but it will give early detection and increase the chances of survival.
    Karl Marx
    23rd Sep 2019
    Yet more money, advertising etc for breast cancer. Far more campaigns, screening programs & awareness for breast cancer.
    More money, education & awareness programs should be made more readily available for prostate cancer.
    Breast cancer is not gender specific unlike prostate cancer which is male only.
    I have a yearly check up which includes blood tests for prostate.
    23rd Sep 2019
    Well if men organised themselves for their prostates as well as women did over breast cancer, perhaps there would be more information and thus more funding available. Where is your advocacy group? How many sporting codes have you approached to get a prostate game? Where is your design for a prostate ribbon? What are you doing about it other than whinging here?
    Horace Cope
    23rd Sep 2019
    You're right KSS although maybe a bit harsh. Rugby League has a day where blue socks are worn for prostate cancer awareness but not a lot is done. Us blokes are a bit precious when it comes to our "down there" and are not best pleased when a medical man is standing behind us snapping on a rubber glove. Not all of us are whingers but, sadly, that's all a lot of us want to do.
    Karl Marx
    23rd Sep 2019
    KSS, I'm stating facts not whinging, it's you having the big spit on my post.
    I get my check up every year. You also don't have any understanding about men when it comes to medical issues especially those of the genitalia.
    HC, Prostate these days is checked by testing the blood which can be done each year during your yearly blood tests. No more snapping of rubber gloves unless your doctor loves you lol
    23rd Sep 2019
    If screening by blood test is not offered by your GP, then ask for it if you are over 50, or if you are experiencing problems with passing urine, or if there is a family history of prostate cancer. If your GP is uncooperative, then find another. I agree that there is insufficient funding for this very common condition. Found early, it can be managed very easily. Unfortunately, many men are reluctant to address this and many other health issues, so it is also up to the women in their lives to encourage them.
    23rd Sep 2019
    During my formal training in the development of cancers, it was consistently cited that smoking was proven to be the highest risk factor beneath age for most cancers, including prostate cancer, but strangely not mentioned in this article. Obesity and alcohol the next highest risk factors, but non-obese with abdominal fat at higher risk than low level obese. Alcohol not mentioned here either but low levels of certain kinds of alcohol, ie one standard glass of wine with dinner apparently not a significant risk. I'm just surprised that smoking isn't mentioned as it is at the top of the list in cancer risk in all medical training as well as for most other diseases - liver, kidney, heart, esophageal, gastric, and especially pancreatic cancer.

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