A PSA About PSA Levels and Tips that May Help Reduce Your Risk of Developing Prostate Cancer
(Read time: 6 minutes)
This article is not intended to replace professional medical care or advice. If you have any questions or need additional information, please talk with your doctor.
There are certain risk factors that may be associated with the development of prostate cancer. There are risk factors you can’t change — such as age, race, and family history. But there are also diet and lifestyle changes you can make that may help to improve your health and potentially reduce your chances of developing prostate cancer.1
First, let’s talk about what the prostate-specific antigen (PSA) level is and why it matters.
What is PSA? And why is it important to monitor?
The prostate-specific antigen (PSA) is naturally occurring. Cells within the prostate gland produce PSA, which is typically found in semen, but may be present in trace amounts in the blood as well.2
The PSA test was originally intended to monitor the progression of the disease among those who were already diagnosed. Now, the PSA test is one of two exams that may be used for screening of prostate cancer.2
Talk to your doctor about PSA tests as a part of prostate cancer screening. Advocacy groups such as ZERO: The End of Prostate Cancer can offer support finding local free PSA testing.
What does it mean to have an elevated PSA?
The PSA level in blood is measured in units called nanograms per milliliter (ng/mL). Elevated PSA levels do not always indicate that cancer is present, but the blood level of PSA is often elevated in people with prostate cancer.2
What factors can impact PSA level?
Several conditions can lead to an elevated PSA level, not just prostate cancer.2
As men grow older, many are affected by prostatitis (inflammation of the prostate) or benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) (a non-cancerous enlargement of the prostate) that can cause PSA levels to rise. Ejaculation and some urologic procedures may also lead to an elevated reading.2
Additionally, PSA levels tend to slowly rise with age, even if there is no abnormality within the prostate.2
There are several factors that may cause a lowered PSA level as well. Patients who frequently take aspirin, or use certain cholesterol-lowering drugs may see misleadingly low changes in their PSA levels.3
Similarly, medication for the urinary symptoms of BPH may cause misleadingly low PSA levels.3
If you’re concerned about your risk factors or PSA level, talk to your doctor.Managing a prostate cancer diagnosis: Your next steps and options
Staying healthy as you age
Even men who are already at greater risk due to age, race, or family history may reduce their chances of developing prostate cancer by adopting healthy diets and lifestyles.1
1. Body composition
Obesity has been identified as a potential risk factor for prostate cancer.4
Why is there a connection? It may be due to commonly proposed factors such as chronic inflammation, altered sex hormones, and higher insulin levels in patients with obesity.4
Did you know an active lifestyle may help lower your risk of developing prostate cancer?1,5
A study from the Harvard School of Public Health found that men who engaged in “vigorous activity” during the study had a “30% lower risk of developing advanced prostate cancer and 25% lower risk of developing lethal prostate cancer” than those who exercised the least.5
But which exercise is best? In the study, “vigorous activity” was described as equivalent to 25 minutes of running daily, and activities such as swimming, general sports (tennis or racquetball), and cycling.5
Studies suggest certain eating habits may help with prostate cancer prevention. Some suggestions include reducing fat intake, drinking in moderation and eating more fruits and vegetables.1
It’s worth considering specific dietary additions or substitutions. Omega-3 fatty acids, for instance, are found in cold-water fish and some nuts, and may reduce your risk of getting prostate cancer. It was found that men who consumed fish three or more times a week had a lower risk of prostate cancer.6 Plus, clinical trials suggested that green tea may help men at high risk for prostate cancer lower their risk.1
You may be able to reduce some prostate cancer risk factors by living a healthier lifestyle, which can also lead to a better quality of life in general.1 Regardless of your level of risk or lifestyle, if you have any questions, speak your physician about early detection and screening for prostate cancer.
If you don’t have a physician or would like to find a specialist, use our free tool today to find a doctor and schedule an appointment:
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*Please note, there may be other doctors in your area who treat prostate cancer not listed here.