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Prostate Cancer
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Are You at Risk for Prostate Cancer?




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Prostate Cancer Risk and Occupation

There is some evidence, though currently inconclusive, to support the association of prostate cancer incidence with certain occupations. It appears that men who are exposed to higher levels of the element cadmium may be at a high risk for developing prostate cancer, as are men who are exposed to high levels of pesticides through farming.

There are, however, many factors that can occur concurrently with occupation that would make occupation appear responsible for the increased risk. For example, if men who worked in a coal mine together over several decades all develop prostate cancer, the mine therefore may be seen as the causation of the disease. However, these men may all have similar high levels of body fat as a result of similar regional diet, or many of these men could be related to each other and have a shared family history of prostate cancer.

Cadmium Exposure and Increased Prostate Cancer Risk
Exposure to cadmium interferes with the body’s ability to absorb zinc. Having adequate levels of zinc in the body is believed to have a protective effect against prostate cancer and other diseases. Men who have prostate cancer tend also to have below average levels of zinc within their bodies.

Occupations that may lead to exposure to cadmium include power plant operator, mechanic, railroad worker, machinery maintenance, welder, and more.

Pesticide Exposure and Increased Risk of Prostate Cancer
Farmers who are exposed to pesticides may introduce such a high level of “cellular insult” that they increase their risk of developing prostate cancer. Cellular insult is analogous to hitting a machine, the machine being a cell and the insult being the act of hitting. At first a machine works correctly. After being hit a few times, it probably will continue to function correctly. After being hit several times a day over a period of years, the machine will begin to malfunction as a result of the continual damage. Likewise, cells of the prostate gland, after being exposed over a long period to high levels of toxins may begin to reproduce abnormally.

Both chlorinated pesticides and the fumigant methyl bromide have been associated with somewhat elevated levels of prostate cancer.

Occupational Hazard or Coincidence?
Your occupation is not a definite method of predicting the development of prostate cancer. As with other preventable risks, such as diet or location, and other risks such as race, family history, and age, most researchers believe that prostate cancer is caused by multiple factors, many of which researchers and doctors do not yet understand.  Prostate cancer is more likely caused by a combination of these factors.

Aging, family history, and being of African-American descent continue to be the most reliable predictors of whether a man will soon develop prostate cancer. If you, or someone you care about, is exposed to cadmium or farm pesticides on a regular basis, you may want to consider speaking with your doctor about a possible elevated risk. Beginning PSA tests as well as DRE exams will help you catch possible tumors in their early stages when more treatment options are viable.


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