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What Are the Causes and Risk Factors for Prostate Cancer?

Medically reviewed by John Paul Abrina, MD · Oncology · Davao Doctors Hospital

Written by Jan Alwyn Batara · Updated Nov 09, 2021

    What Are the Causes and Risk Factors for Prostate Cancer?

    The topic of prostate cancer causes and risk factors is very important for men. This is because prostate cancer is one of the most common forms of cancer among men.

    The key to prostate cancer is symptom awareness and early detection.  If detected in its latter stages, it can be very hard to treat, and leads to the spread of cancer throughout the body.

    By knowing the different prostate cancer causes and risk factors, men can take steps to lower their risk of developing this cancer.

    Prostate Cancer Causes and Risk Factors

    Currently, we still do not have a clear idea of what causes prostate cancer. However, we do know that the cells in the prostate can sometimes develop mutations which cause abnormal cells to grow.

    These abnormal cells usually get killed off by the immune system, but sometimes some of them survive and start to grow and spread rapidly. These cells eventually form a tumor. This is how prostate cancer starts.

    Over time, some of these cancer cells can start spreading throughout the body and affect other organs. This usually occurs during the latter stages of cancer, and can be extremely hard to treat.

    What Are the Risk Factors for Prostate Cancer?

    Even if the causes of prostate cancer are still unknown, we do know the possible risk factors that could cause prostate cancer.

    Here are some of these risk factors:


    A man’s risk of prostate cancer increases as he grows older. In fact, prostate cancer among men younger than 40 is relatively rare. However, once a man grows to 50 years old, the probability that he will develop prostate cancer drastically increases.

    According to statistics, about 6 out of 10 prostate cancer cases are men aged 65 and older.

    So this means that men need to be more mindful about their health the older they get.


    For some reason, men of African descent tend to have a higher risk of developing prostate cancer compared to men of other races. Comparatively, men with Latin American roots, or Asian men tend to have a lower risk of prostate cancer.

    However, this does not necessarily mean that they cannot develop this disease. So it is still important to be cautious and take care of your health.

    Family History

    There has been evidence that prostate cancer is more common in some families. This means that the risk of prostate cancer might be inherited, or based on a person’s genes.

    Having a father or a brother with prostate cancer can actually double a man’s risk of developing the disease himself. Additionally, the risk is much higher if it is a brother.

    Male relatives with prostate cancer other than a father or brother can also increase a man’s risk, but not as much.

    Despite this, men without any family history of prostate cancer can still develop the disease.

    Changes in Genes

    Researchers have found that certain types of gene mutations could increase the risk of prostate cancer. These genes are generally responsible for repairing mistakes in a cell’s DNA, but if they have been subjected to changes or mutations, then they might not behave as they should.

    This increases a person’s risk of developing prostate cancer. In women, these genes have been linked to an increased risk of breast and ovarian cancer.

    Exposure to Certain Chemicals

    Certain chemicals, called carcinogens, can potentially increase a man’s risk of developing prostate cancer. Men who handle harmful chemicals, or those who work in places where these types of harmful chemicals are stored could potentially be at risk of developing not just prostate cancer, but other types of cancer as well.

    This is why it is important to take the necessary safety precautions in order to avoid getting exposed to these carcinogens. For example, there is evidence that firefighters may be exposed to chemicals that increase the risk of prostate cancer.

    Sexually Transmitted Infections

    Sexually transmitted infections or STIs are also among the prostate cancer causes and risk factors. The belief is that STIs can cause inflammation to the prostate gland, which can lead to the growth of cancer cells.

    However, the evidence that supports these claims have not yet been completely proven. Despite this, it would still be a good idea to take steps to avoid getting infected with STIs in general.

    Prostate Inflammation

    Another possible risk factor for prostate cancer is prostatitis, or an inflammation of the prostate.

    It is believed that prostatitis might have something to do with prostate cancer because tissue samples of infected tissue in the prostate usually show some inflammation. However, the link between prostate inflammation and prostate cancer has not yet been confirmed, and is still being studied.


    The link between prostate cancer and a person’s diet is still not exactly clear, but certain studies have found a possible link between dairy intake and prostate cancer.

    Additionally, some studies have found that men who consume a lot of calcium, either in their food or in the form of supplements, are more at risk of developing prostate cancer. However, there has been no link between prostate cancer and consuming normal, healthy amounts of calcium.

    So it is important to not completely take out calcium, but to only eat it in the recommended amounts.


    The link between obesity and prostate cancer is still being studied. Some studies have found that there is no link between the two, but there is some evidence that shows a connection between obesity and prostate cancer.

    In particular, obese men tend to have a higher risk of developing more serious complications from prostate cancer compared to other men. However, it is still unclear if obesity is directly responsible for this increased risk.

    Key Takeaways

    The risk factors for prostate cancer can vary from person to person. And it is hard to gauge how at risk a man is when it comes to developing prostate cancer.

    Regardless, it is still important for men to stay healthy, and be mindful of how they can care for their prostate. By keeping informed about prostate cancer causes and risk factors, men can take better care of themselves, and significantly lower the possibility that they will develop prostate cancer.

    Learn more about prostate cancer, here.


    Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

    Medically reviewed by

    John Paul Abrina, MD

    Oncology · Davao Doctors Hospital

    Written by Jan Alwyn Batara · Updated Nov 09, 2021

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