Prostate cancer is the second leading killer when it comes to cancers in men in the United States. While some forms of prostate cancer are slow to progress, there are other more aggressive forms of prostate cancer, particularly in younger men. Being aware of the facts, symptoms, and tests for prostate cancer can help. Check out these four things you need to know about prostate cancer.

1. Genes Matter Just as Much as Your Diet and Lifestyle

The importance of genes cannot and should not be overlooked. They matter just as much as your diet and lifestyle do when it comes to prostate cancer. If you have a family history of prostate cancer, especially a direct relative such as a father or brother who has a history of prostate cancer, your risk is increased and you should be aware of this. However, it doesn’t help if you have a poor diet, smoke, drink, and don’t exercise either. Whether or not you have a family history of prostate cancer, don’t let this information prevent or deter you from keeping healthy—your prostate may depend on it.

2. Hormones Play a Role

While an enlarged prostate is not necessarily a sign of prostate cancer, hormones can contribute to an enlarged prostate and can influence prostate cancer. If you frequently eat animal products that have been treated with growth hormones such as meat and dairy, your body may be absorbing and processing these hormones. These could lead to an enlarged prostate and these hormones may even increase your risk for prostate cancer. Products with the hormone estrogen such as soy can help reduce your risk of prostate cancer. Just make sure the soy you’re eating—whether it be tofu, soy milk, or edamame—has a “non-GMO” label on it before you buy, as GMOs (genetically modified organisms) have been linked to tumors and cancer in some studies as well.

3. Screening is Not Essential

There are risks to screening in addition to benefits, and you’ll need to discuss these with your doctor when you go in for your regular checkup. Screening for prostate cancer is usually not essential unless, of course, you’re experiencing symptoms of prostate cancer or if you have a family history. Knowing the signs and symptoms of prostate cancer can help you and your doctor decide if you need to be screened. Getting a PSA blood test, a digital rectal exam (DRE), or a transrectal ultrasound (TRUS) can all help you and your doctor determine if you have prostate cancer or if you’re at risk for it. While you may not need to be screened for prostate cancer as you age, it’s important to be aware of the symptoms and pay attention to your body in case something is wrong.

4. Prevention Is the Best Cure

When it comes to prostate cancer, in addition to many other cancers in general, prevention is the best cure. Eating a healthy diet, exercising, and reducing your exposure to toxins and chemicals are all important practices to incorporate into your daily life. Eating a diet high in dairy and meat products laden with hormones, cholesterol, and saturated fat is not doing your body any favors, and therefore not helping your prostate either. While meat can be an important source of protein for some people, choose grass-fed organic meats and eggs to help reduce your risk of health problems. Eating plenty of organic fresh fruits and vegetables is important as well, in addition to beans, nuts, seeds, and whole grains. If you find your diet is giving you any problems, getting an allergen panel test done by your doctor can help you decide what foods are most beneficial for you.

Prostate cancer causes the deaths of nearly 30,000 men every year in the United States alone. While there are genetic factors that can increase your risk for prostate cancer, the importance of diet, exercise, screenings, and taking care of your health should not be ignored.