Understanding the Demographics of Prostate Cancer
The American Cancer Society estimates that 233,000 new cases of prostate cancer will be diagnosed in 2014, and 480 prostate cancer-related deaths will occur.
If you’re a guy older than 40 you know you’re at an increased risk of prostate cancer, and that you should be taking preventative measures to protect yourself from the development of prostate cancer.
But do you know that your ethnicity, geographic location, and even your income could all put you at a higher risk for developing prostate cancer?
The demographics of prostate cancer are wide and daunting. It is important to learn where you fall so you’ll know how at-risk you are and take the appropriate measures to keep yourself healthy and cancer-free.
How Age Impacts Your Prostate Cancer Risk
According to SEER, the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results Program created by the National Cancer Institute, age is a significant risk in the development of prostate cancer.
In the SEER study, conducted from 2007 – 2011, new cases of prostate cancer commonly occurred in men ages 65-74, with the median age of diagnosis being 66. The second most commonly-diagnosed age range at the time was 55-64.
Prostate Cancer Risk by Race/Ethnicity
In a study conducted by SEER, along with the National Cancer Institute, new cases of prostate cancer were observed between 2007 and 2011.
On average, African American Men were diagnosed with prostate cancer at a rate more than triple American Indian/Alaskan Native men. Here’s the numbers for a few ethnicities (Prostate cancer diagnoses per 100,000 men):
- 223.9 were found in African American men
- 139.9 in white men
- 71.5 in American Indian/Alaskan Native men
You may have already heard that African American men have the highest rates of prostate cancer in the United States, and are by some estimates twice as likely to die from prostate cancer.
The question for these demographics is: how does race factor into cancer disparities? And why are African American men more likely to develop prostate cancer?
A 2012 study conducted by the Cleveland Clinic Foundation cites many reasons for the disparity. One reason may be found genetically. Variations in certain chromosomes and the rates of cell death could lead to more aggressive forms of cancer.
It is also hypothesized that African American men may also have naturally higher PSA levels, which may contribute to the presence of cancer.
The same SEER study that mapped the age demographics of prostate cancer found that American Indian and Alaskan Native men had the lowest incidences of the disease, just 71.5 cases out of 100,000, closely followed by men of Asian and Pacific Island descent (79.3 cases out of 100,000). Similar results have been corroborated by the CDC.
Although American Indians, Pacific Islanders, Alaskan Natives and Asian men may experience lower incidence rates of prostate cancer than white, African American, or HIspanic men, prostate cancer is the second leading cause of death among men of these backgrounds.
Does Income or Socioeconomic Status Impact Prostate Cancer Rates?
While race may contribute to the development of prostate cancer, certain studies show that prostate cancer mortality rates, detection, and development may have more to do with your wallet than your ethnic background.
This makes sense when you think about it: poorer areas have less access to health care and health-related education. This means that men may not know about tests designed for early detection, such as PSA screenings.
The same study from the Cleveland Clinic Foundation also cites low income as a possible reason for the increase in prostate cancer incidences among African American men, finding that “socioeconomic status explained the difference in mortality rates between black and white patients.”
Socioeconomic standing as a factor for cancer development also makes sense if you consider other negative health impacts of low income areas and poor socioeconomic status. According to the American Diabetes Association, obesity and poverty are directly linked.
Impoverished areas with little to no access to fresh, healthy foods tend to have higher rates of obesity than areas with access to nutritious food sources. Obesity is also one of the key risk factors associated with the carcinogenesis of prostate cancer.
The Impact of Geographic Location on Prostate Cancer
It turns out that your geographic location can affect more than just your address. Your geographic location and your environment impact your diet, your access to health care, and your exposure to certain harmful elements.
In a study published by the American Association for Cancer Research Journals (AACR), it was discovered that, as men moved from areas characterized by low cancer incidence rates to areas with higher incidence, their cancer rates increased.
Specifically, Japanese men living in Hawaii were studied and compared to Japanese men living in Japan, a country with one of the lowest incidences of prostate cancer in the world.
This study found that Japanese men living in Hawaii had ten times the incidence rates of Japanese men living in Japan, but half the rate of white or Caucasian men living in Hawaii. The study was primarily diet-focused, finding that Western foods are associated with a slight increase in prostate cancer risk.
This study was conducted in 1989, and much more evidence regarding the geography of prostate cancer has been found since it was conducted.
Evidence has been shown that the increased risk of prostate cancer in Asian men living in urban environments may be linked to the adoption of more Westernized lifestyles, including diets.
Urban environments were also the focus of a 2004 study, also published by the AACR Journals. In this study, patterns of prostate cancer mortality and incidence rates were examined in urban and rural areas. It showed that while nonmetro areas had lower incidence rates, they experienced higher late stage death rates than metropolitan areas.
This means that, when the cancer was caught, it was caught at a later, more aggressive stage.
Access to healthcare, along with education, played roles in the 2004 study. Rural areas traditionally have less access to health care, and a lower frequency of PSA screening tests. A lack of health-related education could also explain the lack of PSA tests and other preventative screenings. Additionally, exposure to certain carcinogenic elements of textile and machine work, as well as links to farming can contribute to the development of prostate cancer.
This study also hypothesizes that one’s geographical relation to sunlight could have something to do with an increase in prostate cancer. Although the evidence supporting this theory are inconsistent, your body’s ability to synthesize vitamin D could potentially lower your risk of prostate cancer.
Prostate Cancer Demographics and Life Insurance
While we already know that cancer doesn’t discriminate, there are certain factors to which it is drawn. You may not always be able to control your risk factor or your demographic, but you should be participating in a healthy diet and exercise regimen, as well as regular doctor’s visits to keep yourself healthy.
Where you fall in these demographics may not only affect your health. Your demographics can have an adverse effect upon your life insurance policy.
As we’ve mentioned, life insurance companies all view risk differently. Your family medical history and your current state of health are two things they will examine when deciding which risk class to place you in.
Insurance companies may place you in a higher risk class if you fall into one or more categories where prostate cancer incidence rates are higher.
For example, an African American male over the age of 50, with a family history of cancer, who also lives in the United States, may be placed in a higher risk class than a Japanese-American with no familial history of cancer.
Insurance companies use the statistics provided by these demographics to help determine which risk class you should placed into, raising or lowering your premiums accordingly.
It is important to assess your risk yourself, and to take the proper measures to lower your risk as much as possible. By following a healthy diet and exercise plan, and regularly visiting your doctor, you may be able to lower your risk class.
It also helps to know which insurance companies will look favorably on your risk. This is where I come in.
We will discuss your options, taking into consideration your cancer demographic background and your current state of health.
I’ll get to know your story personally so that we can present it in the best light possible to insurance underwriters and show them that you are not a statistic, but rather you are a unique being whose health is also unique.
Call me today, and find out how your demographics put you at risk for high premiums and what measures can be taken to lower your costs – and your health risks.