The prostate is a gland located in front of the rectum and under the urinary bladder. It is found only in men. The size of one’s prostate varies with age. In younger men and children, it is the size of a walnut but can grow much larger in older men. The main job of the prostate is to make fluids that protect and nourish sperm cells in semen, making semen more liquid.
Several types of cells are found in the prostate, but almost all prostate cancers begin to form in the gland cells. These cells are responsible for making the fluid that is added to the semen. Some prostate cancers can spread quickly; however, the bulk of cancers grow very slowly. There is even evidence from autopsy reports that men who died of other causes had prostate cancer without knowing it because it never affected them during their lives. In those studies, 70% to 90% of the men had cancer in their prostate by the age of 80 ; however, in many cases neither they nor their doctors knew of it.
Risk factors believed to enhance the risk of developing prostate cancer include the following:
- Family history
- Certain changes in one’s prostate
- Diet rich in meat and animal fat
Asbestos Exposure and Prostate Cancer
Another risk factor examined by medical professional is the effect of asbestos on prostate cancer. While evidence is limited, some studies have shown a possible link between the two. A 1993 Danish study tested factory workers for their exposure to asbestos. Of those workers surveyed from 1943 to 1984, an elevated number of prostate cancer and lung cancer cases were evident. To conclude the study, researchers found a 36% increase in the number of prostate cancers observed compared to the expected number.
Another study examined 37 people who passed away from pulmonary issues relating to asbestos exposure. The reason for the investigation was to determine whether people with asbestos bodies in their lungs were likely to have asbestos bodies in other organs of their body. Conclusive evidence showed that between 38% and 62% of the patients’ other organs had the presence of asbestos bodies. Of the 37 bodies examined, researchers were able to obtain tissue of the prostate from 14 of the bodies. In those 14 samples, 43% of them contained asbestos bodies.
While limited, studies have been exploring a potential link between prostate cancer and asbestos exposure. A clearer understanding of this relationship can be achieved only through further examination and analysis.