Sperling Prostate Center

Want to Prevent Lethal Prostate Cancer? Know The Score

I have previously written several blogs about the correlation between lifestyle choices (diet, exercise, supplements, etc.) and the risk of prostate cancer (PCa). There is ample evidence that healthy choices can reduce risk by helping the genes that discourage tumor growth. On the other side, there are also plenty of studies that show a connection between poor health factors such as obesity and smoking that encourage the development of aggressive PCa.

PCa has a diversity of cell lines, and a minority of them can be viewed as killers. I came across a report of a simple scoring system that can help you evaluate whether you are putting yourself in danger of developing this type of PCa. It was reported by Kenfield et al. (2015) in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute in an article titled “Development and Application of a Lifestyle Score for Prevention of Lethal Prostate Cancer.”[i] The authors believe that a combination of unhealthy lifestyle factors is more likely to increase the risk than any single factor, which makes great common sense. Sometimes the simplest things are the most elegant, and they have created a beautifully simple scoring system that they were able to test against actual case records. The higher the score, the healthier you are likely to be and therefore the lower the risk of lethal PCa.

In their system, they assign 1 point for each of the following:

  • Currently not smoking                                                                   1 point
  • Quit smoking more than 10 years ago                                           1 point
  • Body mass index (BMI) less than 30 kg/m2                                    1 point (to calculate your BMI in either pouds or kilograms go to http://www.aqua-calc.com/calculate/body-mass-index)
  • High vigorous physical activity                                                       1 point
  • High intake of tomatoes and fatty fish                                            1 point
  • Low intake of processed meat                                                       1 point

In order to find out how workable this system is, they accessed the records of 42,701 mean in the Health Professionals Follow-up Study (HPFS) and 20,327 men in the Physicians’ Health Study (PHS). They observed a total of 913 prostate cancer-specific deaths. They applied their scoring system to the lifestyle factors in the case records. Men in the HPFS with a total score of 5-6 points vs. 0-1 points had a 68% decreased risk of lethal PCa, while those in the PHS had a 38% decreased risk. Even accounting for dietary factors alone, there was still a significant drop in risk.

Clearly, embracing a healthy lifestyle is an investment in longevity. In case it’s not obvious, these same healthy choices minimize your risk of heart disease, obesity and diabetes; high vigorous physical activity (no fair rationalizing a casual stroll or a weekly game of bowling as “highly vigorous”) improves not just muscle tone but also balance and reflexes, so less accident prone; and not smoking reduces your risk of all cancers, not just lung cancer.

If you currently have a score under < 4, consider making one change that can raise your total to 5. You will be giving yourself and your loved ones the likelihood of a long and healthy life.



[i] Kenfield SA, Batista JL, Jahn JL, Downer MK et al. Development and Application of a Lifestyle Score for Prevention of Lethal Prostate Cancer. J Natl Cancer Inst. 2015 Nov 17;108(3). pii: djv329. doi: 10.1093/jnci/djv329. Print 2016 Mar.


About Dr. Dan Sperling

Dan Sperling, MD, DABR, is a board certified radiologist who is globally recognized as a leader in multiparametric MRI for the detection and diagnosis of a range of disease conditions. As Medical Director of the Sperling Prostate Center, Sperling Medical Group and Sperling Neurosurgery Associates, he and his team are on the leading edge of significant change in medical practice. He is the co-author of the new patient book Redefining Prostate Cancer, and is a contributing author on over 25 published studies. For more information, contact the Sperling Prostate Center.

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