November is Men’s Health Month. In support, we want to raise awareness about a health issue facing African American men at an alarming rate.
Prostate cancer is one of the most common forms of cancer found in men, affecting around one in seven males in the United States. The National Cancer Institute estimates there will be 233,000 new cases of prostate cancer and nearly 30,000 prostate cancer deaths in 2014 alone.
Black men are 60% more likely than white men to be diagnosed with prostate cancer during their lifetime, and are more than twice as likely to die from the disease. Black men are also diagnosed at a younger age (about 3 years younger on average) and are more likely to have “high grade” tumors – the kind of tumors that grow rapidly, spread to other parts of the body, and often cause death.
So what can black men and their health care professionals do right now? The advice is the same for black men as for all other men: they must learn all that they can about the benefits, limitations, and uncertainties surrounding screening and treatment for prostate cancer. Because of their higher risk and the fact that the disease hits black men earlier, the American Cancer Society and other organizations recommend that a discussion about prostate cancer screening begin at age 45 for black men (and at age 50 for men at average risk). Screening and treatment discussions with black men should include their higher risk of developing prostate cancer and dying from it than other men in the US, and acknowledge the things we don’t know related to screening and treatment.
Here are 5 tips to help prevent prostate cancer
1. Eat more fruits & vegetables. The improvement & management of your overall health & wellness begins with nutrition. It’s important to adapt a healthy lifestyle & create a balance of lean meats, fruits, veggies, healthy fats, good carbs, proper hydrations, & daily activity.
2. Cut back on processed meats. (hot dogs, sausages, lunch meats, etc.) This goes hand in hand with Tip#1. You must clean up your diet. Processed meats are high in sodium. High sodium consumption leads to a decline in your heart health.
3. Avoid smoking & excessive alcohol consumption. Do you really need us to explain?
4. Get Active. Incorporating a healthier lifestyle includes daily activity. It’s important to keep your heart healthy! It’s as simple as taking a daily walk. As you increase your activity, strength, & endurance, you will be able to expand your activity/exercise regimen to keep your heart healthy & keep you feeling great!
5. GET SCREENED. The key is early detection. If you have a family history of cancers, it’s important to test earlier than the recommended age of 50.
There are currently two common tests available for initial detection:
• Physical Examination (DRE: Digital Rectal Exam)
• Blood Test (PSA: Prostate Specific Antigen)
The PSA blood test (PSA) looks for the presence of a protein in the blood that is produced specifically by prostate cells called Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA). The presence of an elevated PSA does not necessarily mean prostate cancer is present as there are other medical conditions that can lead to a PSA result outside the normal range. These include enlargement of the prostate (Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia or BPH) and inflammation of the prostate (prostatitis).
The Digital Rectal Exam (DRE)
involves the doctor inserting a gloved finger in the anus, where it is possible to feel part of the surface of the prostate. Irregularities include swelling or hardening of the prostate, or lumps on the surface that may indicate development of a tumor or other problems. The drawback to this test is that the doctor can feel only part of the prostate during the examination, so some irregularities may be beyond reach and therefore missed.
The takeaway this week is simple: Know your risk. Educate yourself. Get Tested.
As always, thank you for time, love & support. We hope what we have shared has helped you. Be sure to share this info with family & friends.
-Eric & Maleka Beal
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Eric and Maleka Beal are health coaches and co-founders of BetterChoices, a health & wellness company and social community focused on educating, advocating, and promoting better health and wellness through lifestyle, nutrition, and fitness education.