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Prostate Cancer: The good, the bad and the ugly

November is Men’s Health Awareness month and as such it is only fitting to delve into two of the most dreaded words associated with men’s health: prostate cancer. The more it is studied, the greater the information that comes to light but thankfully not all of it is bad. Studies in Great Britain, The United States and Canada have uncovered some very interesting facts that are alarming and heartening. Let’s take this backwards to end on the higher notes.

The Ugly

The statistics for Canadian men alone are startling at a glance and numbers have swung upwards since the 1980s but more than likely this is due to earlier detection of the cancer. Happily, mortality rates have not followed the climb and indeed started a backslide in the 1990s. Still, statistics may seem grim without other factors taken into consideration.

  • Prostate cancer will be diagnosed in approximately 26,500 men in Canada during 2012 alone, ending in the deaths of some 4,000.
  • Everyday about 73 Canadian males are given the bad news that their scan is positive.
  • 11 Canadian men die each day of the disease which, next to melanoma cancer, is the most common cancer among Canadian males.

How susceptible is the average man? It is estimated that one of every seven will have to deal with the shocking news of the diagnosis, and one in every 28 will add to its staggering death toll.

The Bad

If you are male and work a nightshift it’s been discovered you have an increased chance of prostate cancer, according to a study printed in the American Medical Journal of Epidemiology. The study was conducted by Canadian researchers who included over 500 men without cancer and over 3,100 men with cancer of various natures. The night shift elevated chances of prostate cancer alone by 2.77 per cent researchers found. This is mostly linked to less than six hours of sleep a day, which over time wreaks havoc with the production of melatonin, a sleep hormone pivotal to the health of the immune system. The lack of shut-eye caused by holding such hours can increase chances of colon, lung, rectal (a whopping 20 per cent), bladder, and pancreatic cancers as well as a raised susceptibility to non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Lads, get your beauty rest.

Even something as seemingly unimportant as how you prepare your meat can increase prostate cancer risk. University of Southern California served up some startling numbers about pan-fried meat and its monstrous possible increase to risk of the cancer: One and a half servings a week of red meat that’s been fried in oil might heap a 30 per cent greater chance of advanced prostate cancer, while 2.5 servings of red meat prepared over high flames may increase risk by a cringe-worthy 40 per cent. The greatest culprit appears to be hamburger meat even over red meats such as steak, but poultry sizzled in a skillet is a danger, too.

If you or a loved one is diagnosed with prostate cancer, one of the best things you can do is stay calm and continue to exercise. Researchers in Europe have connected high blood pressure to death from prostate cancer, hypertension raising the chance of dying from the disease by as much as 62 per cent.

The Good

Take heart, because good news has also been discovered and breakthroughs happen almost daily. The Journal of Clinical Oncology reveals taking aspirin daily can reduce the risk of dying from prostate cancer by over 50 per cent and if that is not enough, a combination of Taxotere and Estramustine, drugs known to inhibit the division and growth of cancer cells, may prolong the life of those who have been told they have no further options.

The Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Centre released a study this year offering that men who are circumcised before they have had sex show a good 15 per cent decrease in the risk of prostate cancer over those men who are uncircumcised, which may be of comfort to certain individuals or a factor in the decision to circumcise a newborn son.

And if you are a man who likes his green tea, you may find this piece of information interesting. The American Association of Cancer Research presented a study this year indicating the consumption of six cups of green tea a day prior to prostate surgery showed a decrease in inflammation of the prostate tissue. The really good news is that green tea may include chemicals that hit biomarkers to reduce prostate inflammation, which in turn may inhibit the cancer growth.

Options for modern intervention may not be able to cure the cancer but they can certainly fight the claiming of life. A diagnosis of prostate cancer does not spell the end; talk to your doctor about various treatment forms, reduce the pan-fried dinners and heat up the kettle for a good, old-fashioned dose of green tea.


Until next time,

Peace, love and vitamin C!



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