The bowel problem that quadruples your prostate cancer risk

If you’ve had a lifetime of serious bowel trouble caused by an inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) like Crohn’s or colitis, you’ve paid your dues.

Years of pain, cramping, diarrhea, weight loss, surgery, steroids.

Hopefully, by now, you’ve gotten your symptoms under wraps. But even if you have, you’re not on easy street yet…

The unfortunate truth is that chronic diseases come with other health risks. And that seems to be the case with inflammatory bowel diseases too.

In fact, a new study shows that men with IBD are more at risk for a super serious health condition — prostate cancer.

The Crohn’s, colitis, prostate cancer connection

Researchers from Northwestern University just made an alarming discovery…

Men with inflammatory bowel disease are four to five times more likely to develop prostate cancer.

The study included 1,033 men with inflammatory bowel disease and a control group of 9,306 men without IBD. Researchers followed the men for 18 years. And it was the first study to show that men with IBD not only have higher than normal PSA (prostate-specific antigen) values but also a much higher risk of prostate cancer.

Why are men with IBD more at risk?

Researchers don’t know yet. But here’s what they do know…

Doctors may not realize that an elevated PSA level in a man with IBD is a reason for concern. They may assume the PSA level is high due to inflammation caused by their IBD when it’s really an indicator of cancer.

Be an advocate for your prostate health

What does all this mean for men with IBD?

You need to pay close attention to your prostate health. If your PSA levels are high, don’t let your doctor shrug it off as a side effect of your IBD.

Now, you may have heard previously that PSA tests are inaccurate or not worth it. But this isn’t completely true. While they’re not perfect and sometimes inaccurate, a high PSA can be a warning sign of cancer. So, it’s a good idea to get a PSA test (especially if you have IBD) and then get further testing if your result comes back high.

Some other tests you may need include a digital rectal exam and, if things seem abnormal, a prostate biopsy.

Since you have a higher prostate cancer risk with IBD, you’ll probably also want to focus on prostate cancer prevention. Some effective ways to drive your risk down include:

  • Maintaining a healthy weight. The higher your BMI, the higher your prostate cancer risk.
  • Eating more foods that lower prostate cancer risk. Fish, tomatoes, cruciferous vegetables, and green tea have all been shown to reduce your risk.
  • Eating fewer foods that raise your prostate cancer risk. Fat from red meat and dairy both drive prostate cancer risk up.
  • Studies show that men who exercise have a lower risk of prostate cancer.

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  1. Inflammatory bowel disease linked to prostate cancer — MedicalXpress
  2. Inflammatory Bowel Disease and the Risk of Prostate Cancer — European Urology
  3. Crohn’s Treatment Options — Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation
  4. Should you get a PSA test? — Easy Health Options
  5. Prostate Cancer Prevention — Prostate Cancer Foundation
  6. Prostate cancer prevention: Ways to reduce your risk — Mayo Clinic
Jenny Smiechowski

By Jenny Smiechowski

Jenny Smiechowski is a Chicago-based freelance writer who specializes in health, nutrition and the environment. Her work has appeared in online and print publications like Chicagoland Gardening magazine, Organic Lifestyle Magazine, BetterLife Magazine,, and