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A POTENTIAL KILLER OF BLACK MEN

 

 

By Shola Adenekan

 

Wednesday, October 01, 2008.

Editor’s note: Always seek medical advice from your doctor.

Black men are three times more likely to develop prostate cancer according to a new study in
Britain. In addition, the majority of black men are not aware that they are at a greater risk of developing prostate cancer.

Scientists at the
University of Bristol
found no evidence that black men get poorer access to health care.

They said the differences between races could not be explained by differences in the tests, screening or information black or white men had about the condition.

Cancer charities said the finding may lead to better care for Black British men who are at higher risk of the disease. They said that the
US
had already reported a higher rate of prostate cancer in black men.

This study, they points out, is significant in that it excludes diagnostic factors for this increased incidence. Black men are as ignorant of prostate cancer, experience of symptoms and are no more likely to delay visiting their doctor than white men.

Prostate cancer is the most common cancer diagnosed in men in the
UK. Every year in the UK
35,000 men are diagnosed with prostate cancer.

One man dies every hour of prostate cancer in the
UK
and Anna Jewell, Head of Policy and Campaigns at The Prostate Cancer Charity points out that the finding is very important in helping to shape our understanding of black men’s experience of prostate cancer and their access to, and uptake of, health services.


“This gives greater weight to the theory that a genetic difference between black men and their white counterparts could explain the increased incidence,” she said.

Study leader Dr Chris Metcalfe told the BBC: "One of the possibilities based on anecdote was that black men may delay presentation - so the cancer gets to a later stage."

"If anything the evidence showed black men were presenting sooner."

"There's very few known risk factors for prostate cancer but it's starting to look like being of black race is a risk factor."

The study was looking at whether more black men got prostate cancer or just whether they were more likely to be diagnosed.

The highest recorded rate of prostate cancer in the World has been reported from
Kingston, Jamaica, followed by Black men living in the USA. Within the USA
, Black men have a 60% greater risk of diagnosis of prostate cancer than their white counterparts.

What accounts for these striking differences is uncertain, although researches believe that is most likely due to a combination of both hereditary and lifestyle factors such as diet

Risk Factors

Every guy has some level of risk for getting prostate cancer just by being a man. But, there are a lot of other factors that make some guys more susceptible to prostate cancer than others. For the general population, a man has about a 17 percent chance of getting prostate cancer in his lifetime and a three percent chance of dying from it.

Knowing your level of risk can help you develop your plan of attack. In general, men should begin screening for prostate cancer at age 45.

If you have one ore more of the risk factors listed on this page (not including age), you should begin annual prostate cancer screening at age 40.

Age

Age is the strongest risk factor for prostate cancer. One in every six men gets prostate cancer at some point in his lifetime. Men from 60 to 79 have a 14.76 percent chance (1 in 7) Men from 40 to 59 have a 2.58 percent chance (1 in 39) Men under 40 have a 0.01 percent chance (1 in 9,876) While it is rare for men Under 50 to get prostate cancer, those cases tend to be more aggressive.

Family History

Compared with men who have no family history of the disease, men with a father or brother who has been diagnosed with prostate cancer have more than twice the risk of being diagnosed. 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.

Race

In the UK, Black men are three times more likely to develop prostate cancer, and studies show that rates of prostate cancer in the
U.S.
are 60 percent higher among African-American men, and the mortality rate is two-and-a-half times that of Caucasian men. Studies are being done on potential differences in physiology, diet and access to care.

Rates for Asian men in the
U.S.
are lower than average, which may be a result of traditional diets.

Hispanic men have a risk of getting prostate cancer similar to the general population, however, rates of death due to the disease have not declined over recent years as they have for Caucasian and African-American men.

Diet and Obesity

The “Western or Cowboy diet,” which is high in fat, meat and sugar, and low in fruits vegetables and fiber may be one of the greatest factors contributing to prostate cancer. Studies suggest a strong relationship between consumption of saturated fat or dairy fat and prostate cancer, while polyunsaturated fats such as Omega-3 fatty acids may help prevent the disease.

Obese men those with a body mass index (BMI) of over 32.5 are 33 percent more likely to die from prostate cancer if diagnosed. Some studies suggest a relationship between obesity and higher risk, but it is hard to prove a direct link.

 

Consumption of saturated fat and meat may be the determining factor, but the effect of obesity on hormone function may also play a significant role. Further studies are needed to determine the exact relationship between obesity and prostate cancer development.

Chemical Exposure

People exposed to certain chemicals such as pesticides and herbicides may have higher than average rates of prostate cancer. One pesticide, methyl bromide, has shown a clear link to increased prostate cancer among exposed farm workers.

Veterans exposed to herbicides like Agent Orange may be at higher risk of prostate cancer. Studies of
Vietnam
veterans potentially provide the most direct evidence of the health effects on Agent Orange exposure.


While most studies have shown to be inconclusive because of the small number of participants, most notable study in contract is a United States Air Force Health Study that specifically compared about 1,200 Ranch Hand veterans directly involved in herbicide distribution to 1,300 veterans not involved.


This 20-year study, launched in 1982, involved periodic physical exams, medical record reviews, and blood dioxin measurements suggests those with direct contact with the subject may be twice as likely to get prostate cancer and die from it.


However, the relatively small number of subjects, and the even smaller number with elevated blood dioxin levels, greatly limited the study's power to detect increases in cancer incidence.

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