Can prostate cancer be prevented?

Because the exact cause of prostate cancer is not known, at this time it is not possible to prevent most cases of the disease. Many risk factors such as age, race, and family history cannot be controlled. But based on what we do know, some cases might be prevented.

Diet. While the results of research studies are not yet clear, you may be able to reduce your risk of prostate cancer by changing the way you eat.

The American Cancer Society recommends choosing foods and beverages in amounts that help achieve and maintain a healthy weight, eating a variety of healthful foods with an emphasis on plant sources, and limiting your intake of red meats, especially high-fat or processed meats. Eat 5 or more servings of fruits and vegetables each day. Whole-grain breads, cereals, rice, pasta, and beans are also recommended. These guidelines on nutrition may also lower the risk for some other types of cancer, as well as other health problems.

Tomatoes (raw, cooked, or in tomato products such as sauces or ketchup), pink grapefruit, and watermelon are rich in lycopenes. These vitamin-like substances are antioxidants that help prevent damage to DNA. Some earlier studies suggested lycopenes may help lower prostate cancer risk, although a more recent study found no link between blood levels of lycopene and risk of prostate cancer. Research in this area continues.

Vitamins and supplements. Taking vitamin or mineral supplements may affect your prostate cancer risk, but this is not yet clear. Some studies suggest that taking 50 milligrams (or 400 International Units) of vitamin E daily can lower risk, but other studies have found that vitamin E supplements have no impact on cancer risk, and larger doses may increase risk for some kinds of heart diseases. Selenium, a mineral, may also lower risk. On the other hand, beta-carotene supplements may actually raise prostate cancer risk. Taking any supplements can have risks and benefits. Before starting vitamins or other supplements, you should talk with your doctor.

The possible effects of selenium and vitamin E on prostate cancer risk are now being studied in the Selenium and Vitamin E Cancer Prevention Trial (SELECT). This large clinical trial is under way, but the results will probably not be available for several years.

Several studies are now looking at the possible effects of soy proteins (called isoflavones) on prostate cancer risk. The results of these studies are not yet available.

Drugs. Some drugs may also help reduce the risk of prostate cancer.

Finasteride (Proscar) is a drug already used to treat benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). It works by preventing the body from making a certain potent androgen (male hormone). A large clinical trial (the Prostate Cancer Prevention Trial, or PCPT) tested taking finasteride versus a placebo (sugar pill) each day for 7 years. At the end of the study, men taking finasteride were less likely to have prostate cancer than those getting the placebo. But the cancers that did develop in the men taking finasteride looked like they were more likely to grow and spread. The reason for this is not known. Researchers are still watching these men to see if these cancers really do grow and spread more quickly.

Finasteride was more likely to cause sexual side effects such as lowered sexual desire and impotence. But it seemed to help with urinary problems such as trouble urinating and leaking urine (incontinence). At this time, not all doctors agree whether taking finasteride to prevent prostate cancer is a good thing. Men thinking about this should discuss it with their doctors. The results of the PCPT will become clearer over the next few years.

Other drugs that may help prevent prostate cancer are now being tested in clinical trials. These include anti-inflammatory drugs such as celecoxib and drugs that affect hormone levels such as toremifene.

Weekly activities at The Den

Friday, Jan. 30 — Geezers, 9 a.m.; gym walk, 11:15 a.m.; January Birthday celebrations, noon.

Monday, Feb. 2 — Gym walk, 11:15 a.m.; Canasta, 1 p.m.; Chief Thompson, carbon monoxide presentation, 12:30 p.m.

Tuesday, Feb. 3 — Gym walk, 11:15 a.m.; Seeds of Learning performance, 11:30 a.m.; Tuesdays Topic, 12:45 p.m.; Meditation for healing, 1 p.m.

Wednesday, Feb. 4 — Dance for Health, 10 a.m.; Dr. Zissman, healthy eyes presentation, 12:30 p.m.

Thursday, Feb. 5 — Meals served in Arboles, AARP Tax Aide, 9 a.m.-4 p.m.;

Friday, Feb. 6- Geezers, 9 a.m.; gym walk, 11:15 a.m.

Books and movies. Come discover the books and movies The Den has to offer. These are available for you to check out, or when they are available here, you can sit back, relax and watch a movie in our cozy lounge.

Tuesdays Topics. Join us from 12:45-1:15 p.m. Tuesdays, after lunch at The Den, for a discussion on an eclectic mix of topics.

Monthly calendar

Alzheimer’s Support Group. Elaine Stumpo, regional director for SW Alzheimer’s Association, hosts this monthly gathering for individuals who are supporting loved ones who are living with Alzheimer’s. Learn how to be supportive of someone with memory loss. The meeting takes place in the Silver Foxes Den on the last Wednesday of the month at 1 p.m.

ASI board meeting. Archuleta Seniors, Inc. (ASI) meets the second Friday of every month at 1 p.m.; this board also serves as the Local Council on Aging and supports many of the activities at The Den. In addition to their support of The Den, they are also a non-profit organization providing support to seniors who may need additional financial support in areas such as medical needs. See their membership packet available at The Den for further information.

Silver Foxes Book Club. Do you love to read? Do you have a desire to discuss what you read in a group setting of inquiring minds? If so, we have just the thing for you. Kathy Hamilton from the Sisson Library hosts the Silver Foxes Book Club on the fourth Friday of every month at 10:30 a.m. in the Den. Kathy can also obtain books on CD, cassette, and in large print. Stop by the Silver Foxes Den to sign up, or call 264-2167.

Special Events

Carbon monoxide information. Carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless and toxic gas. Come learn the sources, the health effects and steps to reduce exposure to carbon monoxide. Chief Ron Thompson from Pagosa Fire will be at The Den on Feb. 2 at 12:30 p.m.

Healthy eyes. Because there’s so much to see, come join us Feb. 4 at 12:30 p.m. when Dr. Jon Zissman from Mountain Eye care will teach you how to keep those peepers healthy. He will offer free cleaning and eye glass adjustments. Hope to “see” you there.

ASI memberships

Time to renew or buy your 2009 ASI Membership? During the month of January, you may purchase memberships at The Silver Foxes Den on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday from 10 a.m. -2 p.m. Folks 55 and over will benefit with discounts from many local businesses, including the local hot springs. This is one of the best deals in Pagosa. All 2008 memberships expired Dec. 31.

Menu

Suggested donation for older adults age 60-plus is $3, kids 12 and under and guests $6. Our meal program is partially funded through the Older Americans Act, United Way, Archuleta County, Town of Pagosa Springs and other contributions and grants. These funds help support the cost of the meal, which is approximately $9.75. Please note our menu is subject to change. The salad bar opens at 11:30 a.m. with lunch served at noon.

Friday, Jan. 30 — Stewed chicken with olives, Greek spinach rice, salad, karidopita cake.

Monday, Feb. 2 — Roast chicken with mushroom gravy, steamed brown rice, cauliflower and broccoli mix, apple pear salad.

Tuesday, Feb. 3 — Beef stroganoff, orange spice carrots, beets, mixed fruit.

Wednesday, Feb. 4 — Spaghetti with meat sauce, tossed salad, green beans, orange.

Thursday, Feb. 5 — Meal served in Arboles.

Friday, Feb. 6 — Honey BBQ chicken, oven browned potatoes, spinach, fruit, bread.