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June 19, 2015
Father’s Day is a day to hold the men in your life a little closer, no matter how many times they forgot your birthday, or to put the toilet seat down. The last thing you would want is for them to get cancer!
Prostate cancer accounts for about one quarter of all new cases in men, and testicular cancer is the most common cancer in men 15 to 34 years of age.
What else can be done to tip the odds back in the guys’ favour, beyond the usual recommendations to exercise, eat a healthy, mostly plant-based diet, not smoke and limit alcohol?
Canada’s Parliamentary Health Committee reported June 17, 2015 that radiation from wireless devices is a serious health issue. Emanations from phones in pockets and WiFi-connected computers on laps stop sperm from swimming, and damage and kill cells. The cancer link to wireless radiation is much stronger for brain tumours, particularly for heavy users of cell phones who started at a younger age. Use wired connections where possible, keep devices off or on airplane mode, text instead of talking, use a headset, allow children to use devices only with wireless features turned off There are many ways to use devices more safely, by keeping your distance. The fine print specifies that devices should be kept away from from the body (it varies, often about 1 cm) for “safe” use. Further is better. Prevent Cancer Now offers more tips.
A ballooning number of chemicals are also worth dodging – in plastics, fragrances, anti-stick and anti-stain treatments, and pesticides. These can interfere with hormones, contributing to cancer of sensitive cells in the prostate, testicles or thyroid. “Endocrine disruptors,” as they are called, are widespread, can cause effects at very low levels, and can team up so that the final effect may be more than the sum of exposures. Check out, the Environmental Working Group’s list, “The Dirty Dozen,” for more information.
Perhaps “making whoopee” wasn’t what you had in mind to reduce cancer risk, although of course physical activity is known to help. Lately, two separate studies in Australia and the U.S. have suggested that prostate cancer risk is lowered if men ejaculate at least 21 times a month. Of course, this may be what scientists call “reverse causality” – that healthier men are more likely to act in this manner, but this repeated observation is intriguing.
A note of caution emerged from a study testing anti-oxidant supplements—selenium and/or vitamin E. There was actually a significant increase in prostate cancer risk in the group that took only the vitamin E supplement, so check with a healthcare professional about over-the-counter products for any health issue.
Fluoridated drinking water is getting easier to avoid, as communities are stopping fluoridation. There is actually little to no evidence of cavity prevention, but growing research showing diverse health concerns. Indeed, the largest, most careful cancer study showed more osteosarcoma in adolescent males who drank water with higher levels of fluoride during childhood.
Hazards are sometimes just part of the job. Awareness and best practices are key, and be sure to leave work toxins at work (e.g. shower and change). Some concerns include engine exhaust, a broad range of chemicals, radon and minerals in mining and metals processing, and ash. Firefighters face higher risks from specialized chemicals in buildings and furnishings, including many carcinogens and endocrine disruptors. Shift work and trouble sleeping, with low levels of melatonin, the “sleep hormone,” have been linked to prostate cancer. Melatonin supplementation may improve sleep and mood, as well as prevent cancer.
Next best to prevention is catching problems early. Check out Nutiquette: A Dude’s Guide to Checking his Nuts, a video encouraging men to examine their testicles regularly for any lumps or discomfort.
Prevent Cancer Now is a Canadian national civil society organization including scientists, health professionals and citizens working to stop cancer before it starts, through education and advocacy to eliminate preventable causes of cancer.
For further information please contact:
Meg Sears, PhD
Co-chair and science advisor, Prevent Cancer Now