Confused about all the news on prostate cancer? Recent headlines have been conflicting. Are supplements helpful or not? Do screenings prevent deaths or not? When it comes to your health, what should you do?
After skin cancer, prostate cancer is the most common cancer in U.S. men. A man's risk for the disease increases with age. But past research suggested that certain nutrients could help ward it off.
One study found a reduction in prostate cancer risk among men who consumed selenium, a trace mineral found in some foods. Other research found that a combination of selenium, vitamin E, and beta-carotene reduced overall cancer deaths.
Recent studies have reached very different conclusions, however. In one study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, researchers "definitively demonstrated" that selenium, vitamin E, or selenium plus vitamin E did not prevent prostate cancer. In fact, the study was halted early because there was no evidence of any benefit.
One nutrient that does seem to show promise is omega-3 fatty acids, which are found in dark fish, such as salmon. Researchers found that a higher intake of omega-3s was associated with a lower prostate cancer risk.
Experts also disagree about screening. Doctors use two tools to screen for prostate cancer. One, a blood test, checks for elevated levels of a protein called prostate-specific antigen (PSA). Another is the digital rectal exam (DRE), in which a doctor feels for abnormalities on the prostate gland.
Some doctors say all men older than 50 should undergo prostate cancer screening each year. Others say that only men with a family history of the disease should be screened. They say it's not yet clear whether the tests save lives or if the benefits outweigh the risks.
A screening test is meant to reduce risk, but in the case of the prostate, it may detect small cancers that would never spread or become life-threatening. This may lead to unnecessary biopsies and surgeries, which carry their own sets of risks.
Decisions you make about your health depend on a number of factors, including your age, race, diet, and family history. When it comes to prostate cancer, your best bet is to talk with your doctor. Ask about supplements and screenings and determine a plan that is right for you.
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Self-Exams Help Detect Testicular Cancer
Testicular cancer is the most common cancer among 15- to 35-year-old men. Experts say most men detect testicular cancer while performing a testicular self-exam (TSE). And if it's found early, this disease has a high cure rate.
So now you know it's a good idea to get in the habit of checking your testicles monthly. But could you use a refresher on the correct procedure? Follow these simple steps: