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What Are the Risk Factors?

Research has found risk factors that increase your chances of getting prostate cancer. These risk factors include—

  • Age: The older a man is, the greater his risk for getting prostate cancer.
  • Family history: Certain genes (the functional and physical units of heredity passed from parent to offspring) that you inherited from your parents may affect your prostate cancer risk. Currently, no single gene is sure to raise or lower your risk of getting prostate cancer. However, a man with a father, brother, or son who has had prostate cancer is two to three times more likely to develop the disease himself.
  • Race: Prostate cancer is more common in some racial and ethnic groups than in others, but medical experts do not know why.

Researchers are trying to determine the causes of prostate cancer and whether it can be prevented. They do not yet agree on the factors that can influence a man's risk of developing the disease, either positively or negatively.

Photo of an African American man

The Selenium and Vitamin E Cancer Prevention Trial (SELECT) studied whether taking vitamin E and selenium (a mineral) prevent prostate cancer. The selenium and vitamin E were taken separately or together by healthy men 55 years of age and older (50 years of age and older for African-American men). The study showed that selenium and vitamin E did not decrease the risk of prostate cancer.

Some drugs lower the risk of getting prostate cancer, but whether they can help lower the risk of dying from prostate cancer is still unclear. For more information, see How Is Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH) Treated?

Regular use of multivitamins has not been proven to increase or decrease the risk of early or localized prostate cancer. Talk to your doctor about multivitamin use.

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