Prostate cancer presents a very real risk to life and longevity. The incidence of prostate cancer rises dramatically with age. Genetic predisposition does play a role in the risk of prostate cancer, but it is difficult to change the structure and nature of the gene thereby mitigating cancer risk. It is, however, fairly easy to alter some environmental risk factors that dramatically improve risks for disease development.
Evidence suggests a significant link between prostate enlargement (BPH) and hormonal levels. As males age, production of androgenic (male) hormones decreases, causing an imbalance in androgen and estrogen levels, and high levels of dihydrotestosterone (DHT), the main prostatic intracellular androgen.
The likelihood of developing an enlarged prostate increases with age.Prostate enlargement is present in many males older than age 40, and prostate enlargement is present in more than 90% of males older than the age of 80.
Blacks have a higher incidence of prostate cancer, with an incidence rate of 224.3 cases per 100,000 people, and blacks are at the greatest risk to present with more advanced neoplastic disease associated with a poorer diagnosis. Whites, by comparison, have an incidence of 150.3 cases per 100,000 people, and Asians have an incidence of 82.2 cases per 100,000 people.
Selenium: At least five major clinical trials have concluded that higher levels of selenium (in blood or toenail clippings) are associated with a sharply reduced risk of prostate cancer. The Nutritional Prevention of Cancer (NPC) trial found that supplementing with 200 micrograms/day of selenium cuts prostate cancer risk in half. Researchers at the Harvard Medical School now weigh in with another study confirming the beneficial effects of selenium. Their study involved 22,000 healthy, male physicians who were enrolled in the study in 1982 and had blood samples taken at that time. Sufficient samples to analyze for selenium content and PSA level were available for 586 men diagnosed with prostate cancer as well as for 577 controls matched for age and smoking status.
After 13 years of follow-up the researchers concluded that study participants with a plasma selenium level of 0.12-0.19 ppm had a 50% lower incidence of advanced prostate cancer than did men with a level of 0.06-0.09 ppm. The correlation was only apparent in men with a PSA level of more than 4 ng/mL and was particularly strong for those with a baseline (1982) PSA level greater than 10 ng/mL. For these men a high selenium level corresponded to a 70% decrease in the risk of advanced prostate cancer. The researchers also observed a trend for a lower incidence of localized prostate cancer with high selenium levels, but this trend was not statistically significant. They conclude that selenium is perhaps not too effective in preventing the initiation of prostate cancer, but that it is highly effective in slowing down tumor progression. They believe that selenium acts by selectively killing off cells whose DNA has been extensively damaged, by inhibiting cellular proliferation, and by its role as a key component of glutathione peroxidase, which protects cells from peroxide damage.