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What causes prostate cancer?

In 2010, when I had my first PSA test with a reading of 20, the urologist I was referred to found no irregularity in the rectal examination.  I asked him whether there was anything I could do with regard to diet that would limit risk of developing prostate cancer or lower the risk of any prostate cancer advancing.  He said “No”.  I found this disappointing and it seems that we now know more than he did at that time. 

According to the Australian government prostate cancer website (

Factors that are associated with a higher risk of developing prostate cancer include:

  • age: the risk of developing prostate cancer increases rapidly from age 50
  • family history: men who have a father or brother with prostate cancer are more likely to develop it themselves
  • changes in certain genes that can be carried in families: mutations in the BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes may increase the risk of developing prostate cancer in some men. People with a genetic condition called Lynch syndrome (also called hereditary nonpolyposis colorectal cancer or HNPCC) also have a higher risk of developing prostate cancer.

This is no doubt true, but does not inform men about what they can do to minimise the risk of developing prostate cancer.  The website only provides generic suggestions such as don’t smoke, be sun smart, eat a balanced and nutritious diet, and exercise – none of which are necessarily specific to prostate cancer.

There is a major gap in knowledge here and future posts will delve more deeply into specific causes.  It is an area where more research is urgently needed.