Prostate Cancer Risk Factors

The exact cause of prostate cancer is not fully understood, however, there are some risk factors scientists have identified that can increase the likelihood of developing cancer. Some of these risk factors are lifestyle choices which you can change, however, many are not and you can’t do anything about them.


The risk of developing prostate cancer increases with age. The average age of diagnosis is 69 years old and more than 65 percent of all prostate cancers are found in men over the age of 65. Under the age of 40, the risk of developing prostate cancer is 1 in 10,000, between the ages of 60 and 69, it is 1 in 14.


While scientists don’t know why, race seems to play a role in your risk of developing prostate cancer. African American men are more likely to develop cancer than men who are Caucasian. They are also more than twice as likely to die from the disease. Asian men and Hispanic/Latino men have the lowest risk of developing prostate cancer.


Where you live also plays a role. Prostate cancer is more common in North America, Europe, Australia and in the Caribbean. It is less prevalent in Asia, Africa, Central and South America. Some experts believe less advanced screening results in a lower number of diagnosed cases of prostate cancer but other experts believe that diet and cultural lifestyle choices in these areas also plays a role.


As with many cancers, your family health history may play a role. If you have a father or brother diagnosed with prostate cancer, your chance of developing the disease doubles. If you have more than one relative with prostate cancer, your risk is even higher.


Your eating habits might contribute to your risk of developing prostate cancer. Some studies have found that men who eat more red meat and high-fat dairy products have a higher chance of developing prostate cancer. Because these men tend to eat less fruits and vegetables, some experts wonder whether this could be the cause for the elevated risk.

Other possible factors

Studies have looked at various other possible causes, however, the research is mixed or inconclusive on factors such as obesity, smoking, other prostate problems, sexually transmitted diseases and having a vasectomy. It is not clear whether any of these factors increase your risk.

Aggressive vs. slow growing

There might be different risk factors for slow growing vs. aggressive prostate cancer. While certain lifestyle choices, such as smoking and diet choices don’t seem to have as much of an impact on slow growing prostate tumors, these might be a risk factor for the more aggressive type of prostate cancer.

Other prostate conditions

Many people believe that having other prostate conditions, such as benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) or prostatitis are a precursor to developing prostate cancer. This is not true. Symptoms of these conditions are similar to those of prostate cancer, which might explain the confusion. However, having other prostate conditions does not increase your chance of developing cancer.


Some studies have shown that there are some ways to decrease your chance of developing cancer, such as eating a diet rich in vegetables (especially broccoli), taking aspirin daily and having frequent ejaculations.

Yumhee Park
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Yumhee Park

Yumhee Park is a former content producer for HealthCentral and helped bring important stories of health advocates to life as a member of the Live Bold, Live Now multimedia team.