Why is a healthy lifestyle important?
A healthy lifestyle can give you more control over your health and help you to improve it. Lots of things can affect your health, including the following.
Staying a healthy weight can lower your risk of many health problems, including heart disease, type-2 diabetes and some cancers. There is also strong evidence that being overweight raises the risk of aggressive or advanced prostate cancer. So it may be particularly important for men with prostate cancer to stay a healthy weight.
Being a healthy weight may mean your prostate cancer is less likely to spread after surgery or radiotherapy. Hormone therapy might also be less effective if you're very overweight. And staying a healthy weight may help you manage or reduce some of the side effects of treatments, such as urinary problems after surgery.
What if I'm underweight?
Being underweight can also affect your health. For example, underweight men have a higher risk of bone thinning. Some types of hormone therapy can also cause bone thinning, so men on hormone therapy may be particularly at risk of bone thinning if they are also underweight. And being underweight can also slow your recovery from treatments such as surgery.
If you're underweight and are struggling to put on weight, speak to your GP. They may check to see if you have any other health problems that could be causing your weight loss. They may also refer you to a dietitian to help you put on some weight.
How do I know if I'm a healthy weight?
Your body mass index (BMI) can be a good way to check if you're a healthy weight for your height. The NHS Choices website has information about how to work out your BMI.
Another way to check if you’re a healthy weight is to measure the size of your waist, as carrying fat around your middle can raise the risk of heart disease and other health problems. Wrap a tape measure around your body, half-way between the top of your hips and the bottom of your ribs. Don't suck your tummy in, just breathe out naturally.
For a man, if your waist size is 94cm (37 inches) or more, you have a higher risk of health problems. If it's 102cm (40 inches) or more, you're at much higher risk.
Losing weight safely
It’s important to lose weight steadily by making healthy changes to your diet, and slowly increasing the amount of exercise you do. Try to avoid popular short-term diets that cause very quick weight loss. They often cut out important food groups or can be too low in calories. If you lose weight too quickly by not eating enough, your body might not get all the nutrients it needs. And if you don't keep eating healthily after losing weight, you may put the weight back on again. Read more about healthy eating and physical activity.
Talk to your doctor if you’re worried about your weight. They can help you think about suitable changes to your diet or physical activity. They may be able to refer you to a dietitian or exercise programme. You can also get more information from other organisations.
A healthy diet is important for your overall health. It can help you stay a healthy weight and can lower your risk of health problems such as heart disease, type-2 diabetes and some cancers. Read more about healthy eating.
You may have heard of certain foods or diets that might be helpful for men with prostate cancer, and some that might be harmful. Unfortunately, different studies have had different results, so we don't know for sure whether specific foods can affect the growth of prostate cancer or the risk of it spreading.
However, some changes to your diet may help reduce or manage some of the side effects of prostate cancer treatment. And some men with prostate cancer find that changing their diet helps them feel more in control.
Physical activity is any type of body movement that uses energy. It doesn’t have to be a sport or going to the gym – it could be walking, swimming or gardening. We don't know for sure if physical activity can help slow the growth of prostate cancer, but we do know that it's important for your overall health and wellbeing.
We don’t know if alcohol has any specific effect on men with prostate cancer. But we do know that drinking too much alcohol can make you put on weight and cause other health problems, such as heart and liver disease and some cancers.
The government recommends that men should not regularly drink more than 14 units of alcohol per week. That’s equal to six pints of average-strength beer or six small glasses of average-strength wine. Try to spread this out over the week and have some alcohol-free days.
How many units of alcohol are in a drink?
- A pint of lager, beer or cider (4 per cent alcohol) contains 2-3 units.
- A 175ml glass of wine (12 per cent alcohol) contains about 2 units.
- A 25ml measure of spirit (40 per cent alcohol) contains 1 unit.
Speak to your doctor or nurse about whether it's okay to drink alcohol if you're having prostate cancer treatment. If you have urinary problems after treatment, try to drink less alcohol. Alcohol can irritate the bladder and make urinary problems worse. NHS Choices has lots of tips on drinking less alcohol and getting support.
Smoking can cause health problems such as heart disease, stroke and some types of cancer. It may also be harmful for men with prostate cancer.
Some research suggests that smoking makes prostate cancer more likely to grow and spread to other parts of the body (advanced prostate cancer). And the more you smoke, the greater the risk.
Smoking may also make prostate cancer more likely to come back after surgery or radiotherapy. And heavy smoking may mean you’re more likely to die from prostate cancer. But the good news is that if you stop smoking, your risk should start to drop – and after 10 years it could be as low as for men who have never smoked.
Stopping smoking can also help with the side effects of prostate cancer treatment. For example, you may be less likely to get certain urinary problems after radiotherapy. And stopping smoking may help to protect your bone health if you're having hormone therapy.
For information about stopping smoking, talk to your doctor or visit the NHS Choices website.