Suppose you suddenly became really curious about global prostate cancer statistics. You might start asking questions like:
- Where in the world is the highest incidence of prostate cancer (PCa)?
- What countries have the highest survival rates?
- Which modifiable lifestyle factors increase the chances of getting PCa?
- And so on…
Your next logical question might be, who figures this stuff out? That’s a good question, because if you could find the answers all in one place, you’d save yourself a lot of time chasing around the internet.
The place to go is something you might never have heard of: The World Cancer Research Fund International (WCRF). This London-based association is like the world’s biggest brain on cancer prevention research related to diet, weight and physical activity. In addition to pulling together all—yes, ALL—annual published research, they also commission research from leading institutions around the world into the effects of diet, nutrition, body fatness and physical activity on cancer and cancer survival.
In 1997 and 2007, they published the First and Second Expert Reports. On the heels of the Second Expert Report, WCRF inaugurated the Continuous Update Project (CUP), an ongoing process of identifying and analyzing any randomized, controlled trials and cohort studies on the causal links between modifiable and non-modifiable lifestyle factors and cancer. The CUP database tracks 17 cancers, including PCa. It contains about 10,000 publications and Its findings are used to update WCRF’s cancer prevention recommendations. According to their website, “Among experts worldwide it is a trusted, authoritative scientific resource, which informs current guidelines and policy for cancer prevention and survival.”
Based on data from CUP, in May, 2018 the WCRF presented their Third Expert Report, “Diet, Nutrition, Physical Activity and Cancer: A Global Perspective.” For the section on prostate cancer, one hundred four international studies were analyzed, totaling more than 9,000,000 men and over 190,000 cases of PCa. Between the CUP database and the PCa component of the 2018 Expert Report, pretty much anything you want to know about global PCa statistics is at your fingertips.
Statistics point the way
To give you some idea of how specific CUP’s data is, here are 2018 figures that update the 2012 data used for the Third Expert Report:
- The French island of Guadeloupe at the northeast edge of the Caribbean Sea has the highest incidence of PCa at 189.1 cases per 100,000 men (compare it to 75.7 per 100,000 in the US).
- The 5- and 10-year survival rates for PCa are higher in wealthier countries that have established screening/early detection services (Europe, North America) and lower in some African and Asian countries.
- As for modifiable lifestyle factors that increase the likelihood of developing PCa, the conclusion that body fatness is associated with higher risk of aggressive PCa is based on a preponderance of evidence from the studies that were included in the analysis.
There’s a saying to the effect of “if 50 people tell you you’re drunk, fall over.” When it comes to PCa, if the weight of global statistics says your fat content is putting you at risk of death from prostate cancer, examine your health practices. Are you consuming the right number of calories? Are you committed to a non-inflammatory diet like the Mediterranean Diet? How much are you exercising to build muscle and burn off fat?
There are some risk factors for PCa that are beyond one’s control, such as family history of breast or prostate cancer. These are non-modifiable genetic vulnerabilities. However, each of us can make daily choices to modify unhealthy lifestyle factors. The most important conclusion from WCRF’s Third Expert Report is that minimizing PCa risk is do-able. So, do it.
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.