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What Causes Utah's High Rate of Prostate Cancer?

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Dr. Steve Prescott of the Huntsman Cancer Institute says, "It's something of a paradox. That despite our low rates of cancer for most types of cancer, having low rates, we have higher rates of prostate cancer, among the highest in states where there is population that is predominantly caucasian people."

Dr. Prescott says while the numbers may be slightly high because we have such a comprehensive cancer registry... they're real.

"Sometimes that works against us," he says. "If you can count very acurately then it turns out that we have very high rates. But this is real, we've known it for a long time."

So what's to blame for the higher rates of prostate cancer in the state of Utah? Well, genetics may play the biggest role.

"And there is good reason to think that. Other populations of Northern Europeans tend to have high rates of prostate cancer. This is common in Scandinavia, for example. Many of the people in Utah trace their heritage to Scandinavia," Dr. Prescott explains.

He says the high rates highlight the need for screening. Most experts recommend a PSA blood test for men over fifty... earlier for those at higher risk.

And maintain a healthy lifestyle.. especially when it comes to what you eat.

"Diet certainly plays a role. There are strong correlations with the risk of prostate cancer and a high fat diet. Conversely, it can be lowered by diets that have lots of green vegetables, leafy vegetables and some other dietary components. So that's certainly true. There is a strong correlation."

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