According to the results of the National Cancer Awareness Survey, 60 percent of Americans are concerned they might be at risk for cancer. Twenty-eight percent of those surveyed were afraid of getting prostate cancer. When you take into account that only half of those surveyed were men, that’s like saying that 56% of men are afraid of getting prostate cancer.
What’s upsetting is that over two-thirds of those surveyed believe that “healthy living” can help reduce the risk of cancer, but only one-third thought that was true for them. In other words, bad nutrition, lack of exercise and smoking can cause cancer in others but not in the person being surveyed!
In writing my book about prostate cancer, it was clear to me that many men want to forget that there’s more to keeping well than visiting the oncologist every 3-6 months, getting a PSA checked, and – if necessary – getting radiation or hormones or surgery.
In fact, most of us can do a lot more than that to stay healthy. I’m not saying that lycopene or exercise or alternative medicine can prevent prostate cancer. But it is true that having a healthy body and a strong immune system might help your body fight off cancerous cells and might make it unnecessary to have that radiation or surgery.
It’s a truth that most men don’t want to face: that women are (in general) more thoughtful about keeping a healthy lifestyle than are men. Sure, women smoke, just as men do, and women gain weight, too. But we hear many more women talking about balanced diets and exercise than men.
So, here are a few hints about practices that are well known but not always well-practiced. And I should know—I’m a man, too, and I try to avoid doing anything that takes a special effort to think about. I like whipped cream on my apple pie, and I don’t like doing the treadmill twice or three times a week.
Physical State of Being:
Get adequate rest, eat a healthy diet and engage in regular exercise. (Ask your doctor which exercises are safe for you.)
Relaxation techniques like meditation, visualization, hypnosis, and biofeedback may also help you feel better.
Emotional State of Being:
People with any chronic disease have been found to have more depression, anxiety and sleep disturbances than the general population. You may want to ask your doctor to prescribe medication or you may want to seek out a behavioural therapist.
If You have Pain, Know Your Treatment Options:
There are many options for treating your pain beyond prescription and over-the-counter medicine. Complementary and alternative therapies include biofeedback, meditation, relaxation techniques, yoga, acupuncture, and physical therapy.
You don’t have to be a health “freak” to stay healthy. But you should be aware that having an overweight body full of nicotine and stress is not going to be productive in terms of staving off illness.
Christopher Lukas is a survivor of prostate cancer and Lymphoma, and has authored two books including The First Year: Prostate Cancer and Staying in Charge.
- What do you do to stay healthy? Share your tips and learn from others on the ProstateCommons.com message boards.
Published On: November 15, 2006