Risk Factors

This page explains prostate cancer risk factors.


Age is the most common risk factor for prostate cancer. The older a man gets, the greater the risk. Prostate cancer is much rarer below the age of 50 but can affect younger men.

Family History of Prostate Cancer

Having a brother or father with prostate cancer increases the risk. The more first degree relatives that have been affected the greater the risk may become especially if a first degree relative was diagnosed below the age of 60. Men with a strong family history of prostate cancer are advised to talk  to their GP about their risk of prostate cancer at around the age of 50.

Family History of Breast Cancer

A strong family history of breast cancer in either male or female relatives, due to the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes (genetic breast cancer), can increase the risk of prostate cancer occurring.



Men of African-Caribbean descent are more likely to develop prostate cancer than Caucasian men. Despite many years of research into possible reasons why this may be the case it is not presently known why the risk is greater.

Prostate cancer in this group of men can occur at an earlier age. It is reccomended that black men should talk to their GP about their risk of prostate cancer at around the age of 45.

For more information on prostate cancer and black men, please visit our page on the Changing Lives project. 

The lowest rates of prostate cancer are found in Asian men. Some past research has indicated that when men of this ethnicity adopt a western lifestyle, they are at the same risk of prostate cancer as Caucasian men. This may indicate an environmental factor such as lifestyle or diet.. 

Diet and exercise 

The role of diet in the development of prostate cancer is controversial. In general it is felt that a good, balanced diet with regular exercises promotes good overall health and may reduce the risk of several cancers. Recent research has also suggested that for men with early prostate cancer these two factors may slow the progression of prostate cancer down. 

In general, a healthy, balanced diet, such as the Mediterranean diet, appears to be good for health. The Mediterranean style diet tends to use less processed meat and more fresh fruit, vegetables, fish and olive oil.