OK, you’re reading this article online, so I realize that I only have but so much time to grab your attention. The prostate gland is about the size and shape of a walnut. Get the connection? All right. We’re making progress.

Though the prostate is a small gland, it can cause big problems. Prostate cancer is one of those problems. Nearly 240,000 new cases of prostate cancer will be diagnosed in 2012; approximately 28,000 men will die from the disease. As a matter of full disclosure, prior to me being diagnosed with prostate cancer, I vaguely remember having much discussion about the prostate gland. Yeah, I heard that as you get older you should make it a point to get a prostate exam, but it’s one of those things that you say to yourself, Yeah, yeah, I’ll get around to it. Luckily, I got around to it.

My prostate cancer was caught during my annual exam. I was fortunate and blessed to have caught my cancer early. My course of treatment included the removal of my prostate (radical prostatectomy), followed by four months of hormone therapy and eight weeks of radiation treatment.

I could give you tons of information about prostate specific antigen (PSA) tests, Gleason scores, and other scientific related information, but for now I’d like to leave you with some information that will at least pique just a little attention to this disease and how it might affect your life and the lives of other men and their families.

1. Family history matters

Men with a father or brother who has been diagnosed with prostate cancer have more than twice the risk of also being diagnosed with it. Men with two or more relatives have about five times the risk. Men with three or more relatives are almost guaranteed to get prostate cancer. And men with a family history should consult their doctors to determine when they should begin screening.

2. What’s age got to do with it?

Though statistics reveal that prostate cancer becomes more prevalent in men as they get older, this disease is not just an old man’s disease. In my case, I was diagnosed at age 48.  I was fortunate to catch my cancer early. Because my father also had prostate cancer, I began have my prostate checked at age 40.

3. The race card

Yes. Race is a factor. Rates of prostate cancer in the U.S. are 60 percent higher among African-American men, and their mortality rate is two and a half times that of Caucasian men.  There are no definitive reasons why prostate cancer incidences and death rates are higher among African- American men; however, it is believed that diet, lifestyle and genetic make-up are major contributors to the high incidence rate.

4. Diet*

The Western diet, which is high in fat, meat and sugar and low in fruits, vegetables, and fiber, may be one of the greatest factors that might contribute to prostate cancer.  Studies suggest a strong relationship between consumption of saturated fat or dairy fat and prostate cancer, while polyunsaturated fat such as omega-3 fatty acids may help prevent the disease. A low fat diet with five or more servings of fruits and vegetables is considered a heart-healthy diet.  A healthy prostate diet includes:

  • Tomatoes—Active ingredient: Lycopene, an antioxidant that gets rid of free radicals in the cells of the body.
  • Broccoli-—active ingredient: Sulforaphane, the beneficial compound most responsible for protecting your health.
  • Soy—Active ingredient: Isoflavones, plant estrogens because they mimic the actions of human estrogen.
  • Flax—Active ingredient: Lignans, phytoestrogens that may act as an antioxidant.
  • Pomegranate—Active ingredient: Ellagic acid, which works with lycopene in tomatoes to reduce the risk of prostate problems.
  • Green Tea—Active ingredient: Polyphenols, which may interfere with and reduce the spread of certain types of cancer cells.

5. Exercise

It’s time to get to work! Exercising for at least 30 minutes at least three times a week is essential for maintaining a healthy body, and it may reduce the odd of developing prostate cancer. Not only may exercise lower your chances of developing prostate cancer, it also is a great way to reduce stress. So there you have it, five quick tips to improve prostate cancer health.  And remember men—protect your nuts!

*Please consult your doctor about diet changes

Robert Ginyard, is an entrepreneur, motivational trainer and prostate cancer survivor.