Resources for Patients and their Families

Prostate Cancer

Prostate cancer attacks the prostate gland, which is part of the male reproductive system. Most victims are men past the age of fifty with a family history of the disease. It is second only to lung cancer as a cause of death from malignant neoplasms.

Other risk factors include:

  • ethnicity (people of Mediterranean descent are less likely to contract the disease)
  • prostate changes
  • poor diet (heavy on red meat and animal fats)

So far, research has failed to find any direct links between obesity, sedentary lifestyle and tobacco use and prostate cancer. However, asbestos exposure has been identified as a possible cause.

The Asbestos Connection

Two studies - one from Australia, the other from Finland - have implicated asbestos exposure in the development of prostate cancer. One involved asbestos miners from the now-defunct town of Wittenoom in the state of Western Australia, which was a primary source of deadly crocidolite (blue asbestos) for decades. Researchers noted that those who lived in and around Wittenoom suffered from a higher rate of prostate cancer than the general population.

The Finnish study was carried out in between 1990 and 1998. The results, published in 2003, showed elevated rates of prostate cancer among men who had been exposed to asbestos at some point in their lives.

Other, more commonly known, diseases attributed to asbestos exposure include: mesothelioma, asbestosis, and lung cancer. Exposure to asbestos is one of the main risk factors associated with mesothelioma cancer. There are different mesothelioma types that an individual may be diagnosed with including pleural mesothelioma, epithelial mesothelioma, peritoneal mesothelioma, biphasic mesothelioma, pericardial mesothelioma and malignant mesothelioma. To date there is no known mesothelioma cure.



Dyken, Jill and John Wheeler. "Health Effects of Asbestos Exposure." Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry Asbestos Science Seminar, Folsom, California August 18-19, 2004.

Koskinen, Kari et, al, "Incidence of Cancer Among the Participants of the Finnish Asbestos Screening Campaign." Scandinavian Journal of Work, Environment & Health, vol. 29 no. 1 (2003).

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