This is what the medstats don't or won't tell you when they toss up vanilla numbers such as the "one in six men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer sometime in their lives". But like the old stock market statistical trope: "stocks earn 10% on average every year" that finance hacks trot out for their marks each year (ask those who've been in the market since 2001!) , it needs more parsing than a casual take would permit.
The "1 in 6" is based on an overall average, for men of all races, ages. It's much lower than in reality because so many guys die of other causes before being diagnosed with the big "PC". Factor in all those guys who conk out from strokes, or cardiac arrests by age 60 - or earlier- or die in auto accidents or of gunshots or whatever, and of course the mean stats level off.
Here's a more realistic takeaway as Dr. Steven Mason reported in his article in the Intertel Newsletter, 'Port of Call':
"If you're a 40 year old male, you have a 40% chance of having prostate cancer. At age 50 it's 50% at 60, 60%"
Unstated but which we can provide by extension, is that it's 70% if you're 70 or over, and as much as 83% if you're a male 80 or over. By 90.....well, you can extrapolate for yourself. Point is, a guy who lives long enough is almost certain, as one oncologist from Hopkins once put it, of dying from some other cause and not even knowing he had prostate cancer when he shuffled this mortal coil. Because most of them are slow growing. End result? Nearly ALL guys who live long enough end up with prostate cancer ....but may not know they have it!
Another takeaway: Nearly two thirds of all cases are diagnosed in men 65 years or older. Hence, if I believed the 1 in 6 bunkum, I'd reckon my chances of having it at only about that, or 16%. But the other stats provide the true odds for a guy my age - which translates to a better than 3 in 5 chance!
What about deaths? One man in every 36 can expect to croak from prostate cancer, according to ACS stats, but over 2.5 million who've been diagnosed with it are still alive and kicking today.
Why do so many of us older guys get it? Chalk it up to a combination of age (plain old cell deterioration, misfiring) and a collection of possible bad dietary habits (most cancer organization sites put the blame on "excess consumption of animal fat", i.e. in meats) and also factor in perhaps a 30% component contribution from the toxins (e.g. phthalates, PCBs, dioxin, chlordane etc.) in our environment. The chemical -industrial complex would prefer not to talk or give attention to this, but make no mistake they have a role in it too, including the 28,0000-odd deaths that will occur this year from prostate cancer.
For reference in respect of the last, as Nina Baker (The Body Toxic) points out (p. 149), just a billionth of a gram of bisphenol A can engender harmful cell effects, mutations. And what is cancer after all, other than hyper-growth of normal cells owing to aberrant effects or mutations? Referencing risk-benefit studies from Canada, Baker goes on to observe (ibid.):
"Bio-monitoring studies of bisphenol A in human blood and tissue suggest that people are already exposed to levels that far surpass the current government reference. Humans quickly metabolize bisphenol A, so in order to account for the levels detected, people must be exposed to ten times more than the current acceptable intake level".
Well, am I trying to make excuses for consuming all those dozens of pounds of bratwurst, salami and other processed food (hot dogs, bologna etc.) over the years? Of course not! But I am not letting the chemical polluters off the hook either!
Another question people may ask is: Why didn't all those vitamins you took over the years help you avoid it? Who knows? Maybe they did - up to a point - but the toxins, e.g. absorbed from the water I drink (mainly from the tap) as well as encroaching fumes from neighbors' constantly spraying chlordane on their lawns, overcame the benefit. Hell, I don't know! If I did I wouldn't have prostate cancer.
What about the tons of tomatoes (with their licopene) I've consumed over 60 -odd years? Hmmmmm......maybe I didn't wash them thoroughly enough so let some pesticide through. I don't know.
The bare fact is it's almost impossible in the realm of cell biology to trace one or even an assembly of sources as causes to a specific outcome, say cancer of the prostate (or liver, or pancreas, for that matter). Oh sure, medical mavens like the insufferable Dr. Mehmet Oz can wax on about the "need to eat less meat" (or keep portions to 3 oz. each) and even hector us males to "adopt a Vegan lifestyle" - preaching incessantly. But even the great Oz was appalled when they did a televised colonoscopy on him (on 'NY Med') and he was informed he had a cancerous polyp that needed to be removed. "But I did everything right!" he whined to Dr. Richard Besser. Yeah, well, maybe some toxin got into your lentils c/o the chemical industry. Just don't be so preachy to us next time round, eh?
My point is that no one can specifically nail down at this time why someone - even the most religious Vegan and athletic type- will develop a polyp or a cancer and someone else won't. If we could solve that riddle we'd likely solve the riddle of life. But we're not at that stage and may never be.
For me, it boils down simply: you at some point cease the back-analysis and just deal with what condition you're presented with in the present. You halt the 'coulda, woulda, shouldas' and stick to doing what you can do in the present to make the unwanted interloper go away.....so you can have some life extension. Maybe not fifty years, but what your normal life expectancy would allow. (It costs money to live to be 100 anyway, 'specially if the austerity bunch backing Paul Ryan and their allied tea baggers whittle Medicare down to peanuts each year!)
Hell, after my treatment, maybe I'll even do what my fair doc keeps pressing me to do and become a Vegan like she is! (She even promised to give me some recipes.) But I know as a born n' bred Milwaukeean, the brats and sausages will not be far from my mind.....especially when the Pack comes on the tube!