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[TowerTalk] Hams and prostrate cancer

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Subject: [TowerTalk] Hams and prostrate cancer
From: (
Date: Tue, 10 Apr 2001 16:57:52 EDT
    Comments from a TowerTalk MD:

There are a lot of hams who have prostate cancer not because they are
hams but because there is a lot of prostate cancer out there, and hams
are in the prime age group to be diagnosed with it.  Prostate cancer is
the most common malignancy (except for skin cancers) in men, and the
second most common cause of cancer death in men.  There will be some
200,000 new cases of prostate cancer this year and an estimated 31,500
deaths.  If there is, as a rough estimate, one ham per 400 people, then
there will be 500 hams diagnosed this year with prostate cancer and just
shy of 80 hams will die of it.  Since it is a disease which progresses
slowly and can be treated effectively for many years, there are a host
of "mature" (read: >55-yrs old) men around with the disease, and a
proportion of them are hams.  I would guess there are between 8000 and
10,000 hams with the diagnosis at this time.

While there has been some statistical association of prostate cancer to
high-fat diet, exposure to cadmium, and a history of vasectomy, none of
these is definitively linked with prostate cancer.  The disease seems to
be mostly associated with intact male hormonal function (which, trust
me, you want) and with advancing age (which beats the alternative). The
incidence of prostate cancer grows dramatically with each decade past
the fifth - up to 70 per cent of men in their 80s may have the disease. 
Prostate cancer is more common in African-Americans and less common in
Americans of Asian descent.  One in eleven caucasians will develop the
disease, and one in nine African-Americans.  If there is a family
history of prostate cancer, particularly if the disease developed in a
close relative before age 65, there is increased risk of developing the
disease.  Contrary to some statements made here and elsewhere (and
decades of wishful thinking), sex, or lack of it, does not predispose to
prostate cancer, but if you think your XYL will buy the argument, give
it a try....Just don't quote me.

Since the median age of American hams is now about 55, prostate cancer
is probably a real issue in the hobby. The American Urological
Association and the American College of Surgeons recommend that men aged
50 and above should have an annual prostate checkup which includes a
digital rectal exam and a blood test called the prostate specific
antigen (PSA).  Patients at high risk (African-Americans and those with
a family history) should begin such screening at age 40.  Many hospitals
and medical societies sponsor community prostate screenings, usually in
the fall, where these exams are available at no charge. Take advantage
of these.  

Prostate cancer is pretty far afield from the tower topics.  Hey, I
didn't bring it up, but before the disinformation being bantered about
got too far out of hand, I thought I would inject some factual
information about it.  No doubt many of us are literally sitting on top
of a potential cancer death when we sit down to the key or microphone,
but this has less to do with ham radio than with the demographics of the
hobby in 2001.  However, if you meet the criteria for being at risk
prostate cancer and you haven't bothered to get checked, you're missing
the boat.  You may never get to work P5 when it finally comes up, and it
will be your own fault.  

Best health and good DX.
                Vy 73,   Don W4ZYT

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