Have you been diagnosed with IBD? Living with this chronic bowel disease can be life changing, but did you ever consider that might indicate an increased risk for prostate cancer? A new study is indicating just that. Education is the key to preventative healthcare, knowing what IBD is and how it relates to prostate cancer could give you the secret to prevention or early detection. Read on to find out more about this condition and the link to prostate cancer.

Overview of IBD

Inflammatory bowel disease refers to conditions that cause chronic inflammation in the digestive system. There are two types of IBD—ulcerative colitis, which is characterized by inflammation and ulcers in the inner layer of the colon and rectum, and Crohn’s disease, which produces inflammation in the digestive tract that often spreads to deeper tissues. Both types of IBD can result in diarrhea, abdominal pain, bloody stool, loss of appetite, and fever. If left untreated, IBD can lead to serious problems requiring surgery or causing lasting damage.

Inflammatory bowel disease is not irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). They share some symptoms like diarrhea, abdominal cramps, and indigestion, but IBS does not cause inflammation or result in ulcers or other sores in the body. Unlike IBD, IBS is a “functional” disease meaning that the digestive system isn’t functioning correctly, but there is no visible physical damage. While IBS is uncomfortable, it is generally not as serious and can usually be managed by changes in diet.

IBD and Prostate Cancer

It has been speculated for a while that IBD is linked to prostate cancer, but a study in European Urology confirmed the connection between the two. Researchers looked at men with and without IBD and discovered that the risk of prostate cancer was five times higher in men with IBD as opposed to those without. This could be because medication often given to treat IBD causes the immune system to be less responsive in seeking out harmful cells. As a result, cancerous cells are allowed to travel and take hold in the prostate without interference from the immune system.

It is important to note that both IBD and prostate cancer are highly hereditary, and it could be that there are genes that share predispositions to both. However, because of the connection, it is important that blood tests for IBD also evaluate the potential risk for prostate cancer. Typical prostate cancer screenings look for elevated levels of a prostate-specific antigen, but this prostate-specific antigen is already higher in people with IBD, which can make the prostate cancer risk harder to spot.

Increased Cancer Risk

Besides IBD, other things can increase a man’s risk for getting prostate cancer, so while testing for the prostate-specific antigen can make IBD patients’ results tricky, it is not the only way to evaluate the risk. As mentioned above, there is a genetic connection associated with prostate cancer risk. A man with one relative with prostate cancer is twice as likely to get it, and the likelihood jumps to four times when there are two or more relatives with prostate cancer. Even a history of other cancers, like ovarian, breast, pancreas, and colon, can increase a man’s risk of getting prostate cancer.

Other factors can increase risk as well, and many are lifestyle or social factors. Being overweight or obese has proven to increase a man’s risk of prostate cancer. Likewise, diets high in saturated fats, sugar, and carbohydrates can make the body more susceptible to cancer, including in the prostate. These factors also play a role in treatment of prostate cancer, making recovery from surgery more difficult and increasing the chance of death. If you have inflammatory bowel disease and/or other risk factors for prostate cancer, it is important to monitor the health of your prostate. If you would like to find out more about the risks or schedule a screening, you can book an appointment with Mississippi Urology Clinic online. We look forward to helping you take care of your health!