Risk Factors for Prostate Cancer

A risk factor makes the chances of getting a disease or health problem higher.

You can have prostate cancer with or without them. But the more you have, the greater the chances it can start.

You may not have control over some risks such as your age or race. For the most part, risk starts getting higher starting at 50 years old. But, it's mainly found in men over 65 years old. Rates are higher in Black men.

Your chances for are also higher for:

  • Those who have the same problems in their family —This cancer tends to run in parents and children. Risk goes up based on the number of men in your family and if it was found at an earlier age.
  • Certain problems with genes cause changes that let cancer to start and grow. These are passed down from the parent. Your risk can be due to:
    • Cells that don’t have a way to keep them from copying with control (like brakes on a car).
    • Cells with a method that speeds cellular growth over the normal rate (like a gas pedal on a car).
    • Missing or having certain genes that cause these changes.
  • Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) —Men with a record of STIs have a higher risk. Long-lasting or repeated STIs can cause changes in the prostate.
  • Body mass index (BMI) —BMI is a measure of weight relative to height. As BMI gets higher, so does the risk of prostate cancer. This may be because of hormonal changes linked to having too much weight.
  • Lack of exercise —Not taking part in in routine exercise may raise your risk. Getting routine exercise may lower harmful levels of hormones in the body that help cancer start and grow.
  • Work or environmental exposures —Certain chemicals, such as Agent Orange or those used in firefighting at the World Trade Center site, may impact risk.


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Prostate cancer. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T114483/Prostate-cancer. Updated October 16, 2018. Accessed October 29, 2018.
Prostate cancer risk factors. American Cancer Society website. Available at: https://www.cancer.org/cancer/prostate-cancer/causes-risks-prevention/risk-factors.html. Updated March 11, 2016. Accessed October 29, 2018.
Prostate cancer screening. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T114483/Prostate-cancer. Updated October 18, 2018. Accessed October 29, 2018.
What causes prostate cancer? Urology Care Foundation website. Available at: https://www.urologyhealth.org/urologic-conditions/prostate-cancer/causes. Accessed October 29, 2018.
9/4/2013 DynaMed Plus Systematic Literature Surveillance. http://www.dynamed...: Ansbaugh N, Shannon J, Mori M, et al. Agent Orange as a risk factor for high-grade prostate cancer. Cancer. 2013;119(13):2399-2404.
Last reviewed September 2018 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Mohei Abouzied, MD, FACP
Last Updated: 10/29/2018

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