Cancer Men’s Health

Prostate Cancer Management Among Black Men   

OJ Simpson and Cancer
Written by Ifeanyi Paschal

In the 1970s, Orenthal James Simpson (better known as O.J. Simpson) became famous for setting multiple records as a running back for the Buffalo Bills in the NFL. Years later, he would become an actor and sports commentator. In 1995, his life took a dramatic turn when Mr. Simpson was accused of killing his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend, Ronald Goldman. His trial was televised on national TV channels across the United States. Mr. Simpson, who would later be acquitted and given two years’ probation, kept an aspect of his life away from the prying eyes. The famous NFL player had prostate cancer and died from the ailment on April 10, 2024 at the age of 76. Mr. Simpson’s story is one out of the thousands of prostate cancer cases that have gone unnoticed in the Black world. According to relevant studies, 1 in 6 Black males are likely to get prostate cancer in their lifetime, making it the most prevalent cancer type among Black males. In contrast, white males have 1 in 8 odds of developing the health condition.

Going back to the basics, prostate cancer is the cancer cell that develops in a man’s prostate, a small walnut-sized gland located in the groin that outputs seminal fluid (semen). The prostate produces the semen that nourishes and transports the sperm. Psychologists attribute cultural attitudes and pressures around masculinity as the primary reasons why Black men dealing with the ailment (like Mr. Simpson) don’t open up on their medical condition. Oftentimes, men who have the medical condition are likely to have erectile dysfunction or have catheters in their body. This, in their view, is an aberration as society expects them to be sexually vigorous and self-sufficient throughout their lives. But how should we Black men manage this medical condition? Now, let’s dive right into this burning issue.  

What Else Should I Know?  

The prostate—which grows during male adolescence—plays a crucial role during reproduction. So, the disease develops around that gland. Now, I can tell you are already wondering, “What are the root causes of this disease?” Well, the answer to that question remains a mystery. However, the cancer cells form when cells multiply faster than usual. Typically, normal cells die over time, but cancer cells do not die. Instead, they multiply and grow into a lump called a tumor. As time goes on, the tumor explodes and spreads. Thankfully, this disease spreads slowly. Hence, it is diagnosed before it spreads beyond the prostate region.

At its early stage, this cancer type has no visible symptoms. But as it grows gradually, it begins to progress beyond the prostate zone. At this point, you may begin to notice frequent urination, weak urine flow, painful urination, loss of bladder and bowel control, blood in the semen, painful ejaculation, erection problems, etc. Before those symptoms become glaringly obvious, the medical condition would have little or no effect on your daily activities. But then, many Black men with the ailment won’t die from it. Rather, they usually die from other causes. Early diagnosis leads to a 100% survival rate. On the flip side, once it spreads, your survival rate lowers to 32%. As I mentioned earlier, medical scientists cannot point to the specific causes of the disease. Nonetheless, certain factors heighten the odds of developing the condition. These are age (the risk increases as you grow older), family history, ethnic group (yes, it is common among us, the Blacks), and obesity.

Prevention and Management among Black Males

If you don’t have prostate cancer yet, one gift you must give yourself is to take steps to avert it. To this end, you must focus on positively changing things you can and properly managing the factors you cannot change. Permit me to talk about the latter first before the former. You see, you cannot stop yourself from aging (as your risk of developing the ailment increases as you get older) and you cannot change your race and genes (family history) either. But you can still do something—that is, early diagnosis. Here’s the catch: The moment you clock 40 years, you should go for prostate-specific antigen (PSA) screening every year, along with a full physical, including laboratories. In summary, you should embrace the following:

  1. Healthy living: Eat low-fat meals, veggies, and whole grains. Eat “real food” instead of buying processed ones
  2. Regular exercise: Get at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity per week or at least 75 minutes of arduous aerobic activity within the same timeframe
  3. Heavy weight: Studies have linked obesity and excess abdominal fat to greater risk of prostate cancer. Therefore, maintain your BMI (body mass index) between 18.5 and 24.9 to stay healthy
  4. Avoid smoking/limit alcohol: Most times, heavy smokers are alcoholics, so you need to quit smoking and reduce your alcohol intake to 2 drinks per day  
  5. Masturbation: You probably didn’t see this tidbit coming, but there are strong indications that regular ejaculations could lower your risk of developing prostate cancer.   

In this article, I shared some detailed tips for preventing the disease. If you already have the condition, it is not the death sentence because you have lots of treatment options. Just consult your doctor for some expert advice. In short, studies show that the 5-year survival rate of people with the disease is almost 100%. Away from that, who deserves to know that you are ill? Just like Mr. Simpson, you have the right to keep your health challenges to yourself. Nevertheless, hiding your disease from your loved ones deprives them the right and obligation to care and support you. Some people will be hurt if you don’t open up to them; they would think you don’t value them enough to share a life-threatening problem with them. Remember, male masculinity is a social script that cannot give you the care and love you deserve. As the saying goes, a problem shared is halved. Therefore, share that health issue with those you can trust.   

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About the author

Ifeanyi Paschal

Ifeanyi Paschal is an experienced researcher and versatile writer. With nearly a decade of experience in the writing industry, Paschal has coordinated and participated in several research studies and written for companies in a wide spectrum of industries, including health and wellness, tech, HRM, and business development.

As a writer with Elevate Black Health, Paschal goes the extra mile to do extensive research and craft health and wellness articles that help the global Black community deepen its understanding of relevant health challenges, find effective solutions to them, and maximize healthy living.

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