If you’re old enough to remember Smokey the Bear you certainly remember the famous slogan, “Only you can prevent forest fires.”
Smokey was an orphaned baby bear rescued from a 1950 New Mexico wildfire. His burns eventually healed, and he gained a home at the National Zoo in Washington, D.C. He quickly became a national icon. His face beneath a Park Ranger hat was posted across America. Millions of kids watching Saturday morning cartoons during that era learned his theme song. This media blitz taught the importance of preserving healthy forests by being responsible on camping trips.
We were learning to “prevent forest fires” but we played with fire in our own bodies. Ironically, those same Saturday morning cartoon shows were interspersed with ads for Sugar Frosted Flakes, Hostess Cupcakes, Oreos, Kool-Aid and other habit-forming kid treats. On the adult side, TV commercials promoted cigarettes, a big selling point being medical “opinion”:
Don’t be foolish, take your doctor’s advice: Smoke a fresh cigarette. From the 1930s to the 1950s, advertising’s most powerful phrase—“doctors recommend”—was paired with the world’s deadliest consumer product. Cigarettes weren’t seen as dangerous then, but they still made smokers cough. To allay fears, tobacco brands hired throat “doctors” (that is, models dressed in white coats) to explain that dust, germs or a lack of menthol were to blame, not the cigs themselves.[i]
Most cancers do not simply appear overnight. Even for people with no family history of cancer, or exposure to toxic carcinogens, years of habitual unhealthy lifestyles can accumulate to the point where they trigger cellular mutations with the capacity to spread and become deadly.
Preventing prostate cancer
In 2018, the World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF) published Diet, Nutrition, Physical Activity and Cancer. It is the work of an independent panel of experts that “…has been evaluating the evidence on cancer prevention for many years.”[ii] It is their third comprehensive analysis of worldwide research since 1997, which is quite a remarkable endeavor.
The comprehensive report addresses many specific cancers, including prostate cancer (PCa). Based on decades of evidence, the report identifies factors that may raise PCa risk, such as:
- Being overweight or obese increases the risk of advanced PCa
- Being tall increases PCa risk
- Higher consumption of dairy products may increase PCa risk
- Diets high in calcium may increase PCa risk
This is just a small sample. The report is filled with links between the elements that make up our daily lives and the odds for developing many different kinds of cancer. While this may sound discouraging, what’s great about the report is the particular recommendations for preventing such risks. They are well worth reading. According to their Medical and Scientific Adviser, Professor Martin Wiseman, “Our Cancer Prevention Recommendations come from our latest Expert Report and from the conclusions of an independent panel of experts – they represent a package of healthy lifestyle choices which, together, can make an enormous impact on people’s likelihood of developing cancer and other non-communicable diseases over their lifetimes.”[iii]
You can download a pdf of their full “Diet, Nutrition, Physical Activity and Prostate Cancer” report. It’s an update of an earlier version from 2007, and is very well researched. I recommend taking time to read it. Don’t wait until your prostate sends you “smoke signals” that you’re in danger of cancer blazing through it. If you want a user-friendly roadmap to help you navigate to anti-PCa self-preservation, it’s here and it’s free.
Remember: Only you can be your own poster child for preventing prostate cancer.
NOTE: This content is solely for purposes of information and does not substitute for diagnostic or medical advice. Talk to your doctor if you are experiencing pelvic pain, or have any other health concerns or questions of a personal medical nature.
[i] Klara, Robert. “Throwback Thursday: When Doctors Prescribed ‘Healthy’ Cigarette Brands.” Adweek. June 18, 2015.