Your prostate plays an important role in your life. Many men have some general idea about their prostate health but not nearly enough knowledge to be able to take the proper steps to ensure they continue living a healthy life.
It is estimated that 1 out of every 7 males will be diagnosed with prostate cancer. There have been over 26,000 deaths from prostate cancer in 2016.
These numbers are truly frightening and should be more than enough facts for any man to want to get their prostate health in check.
However, besides prostate cancer-related complications, there are also many other prostate health issues that can arise throughout your life.
Benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) is amongst the possible conditions which can develop due to poor prostate health.
At the age of 70, it is estimated that 90% of all men are affected by BPH. Furthermore, the most common reason for visiting a urologist if you are under the age of 50 is prostatitis.
It is very clear that your prostate health is a huge part of your overall health. Maintaining a healthy prostate should be amongst your top health priorities in life.
The good news is that improving or maintaining a healthy prostate can be done with a few simple alterations to your diet and some lifestyle changes.
You can reduce the risk of prostate-related health problems, including prostate cancer, as long as you have the knowledge needed to take the right steps.
Even if you are already dealing with prostate related problems, there are supplements and herbs which can help you reduce inflammation and stop the growth of possible cancer cells. All of this can be achieved as long as you dedicate the right amount of time to making the right decisions.
What is the Prostate?
The prostate is a chestnut-sized organ which is responsible for many male physiology related functions.
This small organ surrounds the urethra just underneath the bladder and weight only about 20 grams. Your prostate plays a big role in many functions.
The main and probably most important function of the prostate is the production and secretion of prostate fluid which is combined with sperm cells produced by the testicles resulting in what we call semen.
The muscles of the prostate gland also help propel this seminal fluid into the urethra during the process of ejaculation.
The seminal fluid also contains other fluids in it from other organs like the seminal vesicle and the bulbourethral gland.
The combination of these fluids ensures the proper function of sperm cells. Fertility is greatly affected by proper function of all of the organs related to the seminal fluids.
The conversion of testosterone into dihydrotestosterone (DHT) is yet another role which falls to the prostate. DHT is the biologically active form of testosterone; it is an androgen hormone that plays a major part in puberty and the development of adult male characteristics in younger males.
The anatomic position of the prostate is perfect when it comes to proper seminal fluid delivery.
However, this same beneficial location can be troublesome if the prostate gland ends up swelling or growing too much.
Unwanted pressure on the urethra can occur, leading to bladder wall irritation which in turn can make it difficult or uncomfortable to urinate.
Men's Prostate Related Health Problems
Prostate cancer is the second most common cancer amongst men in the US. It has become one of the most dangerous health problems throughout the world. This cancer occurs when cancer cells form from the tissue of the prostate.
These cancer cells are malignant which means they do not stop growing and can infect surrounding areas very quickly if not treated.
Some of the early signs of prostate cancer are frequent urination, waking up in the middle of the night to urinate, difficulty starting to urinate, difficulty continuing to urinate once the flow has started, possibility of blood in the urine, possible pain when urinating, possible pain during ejaculation (uncommon), difficulty maintaining an erection (uncommon).
If the prostate cancer has already started to advance, the following symptoms are also a possibility: frequent bone pain around pelvis/ribs/spine, pain in the femur (closest to the hip joint), weakness in the legs (if cancer has spread to the spine), and involuntary leakage of urine.
Most of the time, prostate cancer progresses very slowly. In fact, many men who actually died of old age have been determined to have prostate cancer only which was only found during an autopsy.
It is estimated that about 80% of all men who have died in their 80s had prostate cancer without even knowing about it; furthermore, even their doctors didn’t know they had prostate cancer.
Prostatic intraepithelial neoplasia (PIN) has been determined as the starting point of prostate cancer.
PIN is a tiny alteration in the shape and size of the prostate gland cells which may eventually lead to the development of malignant cancer cells. It is estimated that about 50% of all 50 year old males have PIN.
The cells which are affected by PIN are usually in place and haven’t moved, whilst cancer cells generally spread to other parts of the prostate relatively quickly.
Those who have high-grade prostatic intraepithelial neoplasia which is determined through biopsy are usually at a much higher risk for having cancer cells in their prostate.
These patients are usually monitored very carefully and other biopsies might be performed as a surveillance measure.
Age is the number one risk factor when it comes to prostate cancer. Simply put, the older you get the higher the risk is that you may develop prostate cancer.
Generally, those who are under the age of 45 are usually much less likely to have prostate cancer, while those who are over the age of 50 are at a much higher risk.
Genetics also play a big role in the chance of prostate cancer development. African-Americans are significantly more likely to have prostate cancer than Caucasians.
If one of out of two male twins has prostate cancer then the other twin is more likely to develop it as well.
Men who have brothers or father that have or had prostate cancer are twice as likely to develop prostate cancer than other men.
Your diet also has a huge impact on increasing the risks of prostate cancer. Some studies have shown that the Mediterranean diet has a chance to reduce the risks for prostate cancer.
Soy, selenium, and green tea have also been known to help with reducing prostate cancer chances.
Increased red meat consumption and low levels of Vitamin D can have the opposite effect and end up increasing the risks of developing prostate cancer.
Certain medications can also help you reduce the chances of developing prostate cancer. Some studies have shown that statins, which are usually used to treat high cholesterol, can also decrease prostate cancer risks.
Many medications which are designed to be anti-inflammatory have been linked to prostate cancer chance reduction.
Obesity is another strong prostate cancer influencer. The link is rather clear; obesity raises the chances for prostate cancer development as well as metastasis, which is the development of secondary malignant growths at a distance from a primary site of cancer.
Veterans who have been exposed to Agent Orange, an herbicide used by the US military during its herbicidal warfare program, have been determined to have a much higher risk to develop prostate cancer than other men who have not been exposed to it.
Furthermore, the form of reoccurring prostate cancer in those who have been exposed to Agent Orange is generally much more aggressive.
As you can see there are many aspects of one’s life that can influence the risk of prostate cancer development. All of these factors which increase prostate cancer risks should be taken into consideration.
You should do everything in your power to try and reduce these risks and avoid situations which can influence the chances of developing prostate cancer.
Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH)
In simple terms, BHP is an enlarged prostate. Since the prostate is surrounding the urethra, which is used to deliver urine outside of the body, an enlarged prostate can cause extra pressure which can create problems during urination.
Nearly every male will develop BPH as they age but you must keep in mind that BPH is not a type of cancer.
Actually, besides being a major nuisance, BPH isn’t really a serious problem. There are some medications you can take if your prostate is inflamed or enlarged to reduce the side effects associated with BPH.
Generally, the major cause of BPH is the changes in hormone balance and cell-growth associated with aging, which is why it’s so common amongst older men.
Although the symptoms assassinated with BPH are very similar to other prostate related issue, a quick visit to a urologist should determine if you are suffering from BPH or if another prostate related problem is at fault.
Some of these symptoms are issues with starting and stopping urine stream, frequent feelings of needing to urinate, weak urine stream, and feeling that your bladder isn’t empty after urinating.
Sometimes, although usually uncommon, BPH can cause severe urinary blockage resulting in urinary retention. This backed-up urine can cause other issues to occur like bladder infections or kidney damage.
It is important to note that BPH does not cause prostate cancer and doesn’t affect male fertility.
There are a few things that you doctor will take into consideration before diagnosing you with BPH. Your past medical health and lifestyle give some clue as to whether your issues are caused by BPH.
A physical exam will also put some information on the table to help make an accurate diagnosis. A digital rectal exam is often performed to determine the size of your prostate and evaluate the possibility of BPH.
In some situations, your doctor might choose to perform a prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test which helps rule out prostate cancer, since both BPH and prostate cancer often have similar symptoms.
If you do end up visiting your doctor with symptoms related to BPH, make sure you are as accurate as possible with your feedback; every little piece of information can help determine a more accurate diagnosis.
Since BPH is more of a discomforting issue rather than a serious one, most of the time your doctor might suggest some at home steps which should be taken to deal with symptoms.
For example, you might be told to try and practice “double voiding”, which is essentially urinating as much as you can then relaxing for a few minutes then urinating again. It is also suggested to try and avoid caffeine and alcohol as much as possible.
Both of these substances force your body into trying to eliminate water which results in frequent urinations. There are also some medications which should be avoided that your doctor might go over.
If these basic steps have little or no effect, then your doctor might prescribe specific medication which can help deal with the symptoms of BPH.
However, it is important to understand that no medication will eliminate the symptoms completely. In extremely rare situations, it might be necessary for you to get a surgery to remove some of the prostate.
However, these surgeries are very uncommon since most of the symptoms and problems associated with BPH aren’t severe enough.
Although it is rumored that frequent ejaculation can prevent prostate enlargement, this hasn’t been scientifically proven. There is no known way to prevent BPH or the urination issues which come along with it.
Nearly two million consultations per year are linked to prostatitis. It is estimated that 11 percent to 16 percent of men have prostatitis.
It is a more common reason for urologist visits in men under 50 than both prostate cancer and BPH.
Often described as an infection of the prostate, prostatitis can also be an inflammation without any signs of infection.
Statistically, only about 5% to 10% of prostatitis cases are caused by bacterial infections. Prostatitis can become chronic if it lasts for more than three months.
Frequent bladder infections are the primary symptom of prostatitis. However, you might not experience any symptoms related with prostatitis but still have it.
On the other hand, you can have sudden and very severe symptoms which can force you to seek emergency medical care.
The less severe symptoms of prostatitis are frequent urination, difficulty urinating, weak urine stream, and painful ejaculations.
The more severe symptoms which can cause a lot of discomfort are pain and burning during urinations, severe chills and fever, intermittent pain around the abdomen, groin, or back, and pelvic pain during ejaculation or sexual intercourse.
Seeing a urologist is strongly suggested if you feel that you have developed prostatitis or are experiencing any of the symptoms related with prostatitis.
A digital rectal exam is usually used to determine the swelling of your prostate gland. If necessary, further tests can be performed to set the diagnosis in stone.
You might have to do a PFA test to check and see if the prostate is infected. Transrectal ultrasound or biopsy might also be used.
Improving Your Prostate Health Naturally
Without a doubt, the best way to improve your prostate health is through a healthy diet and lifestyle.
There are certain foods that you can focus on which can help not only improve your prostate health but also improve your overall health.
Tomatoes are sort of like a miracle food when it comes to the prostate. When cooked, they produce lycopene, and consuming lycopene has been shown to play a pretty high role in reducing the chances of prostate cancer.
Some people assume that ketchup is a good source of lycopene, however, because of severe processing and other additives, we suggest you choose tomatoes over ketchup or make your own homemade ketchup to increase your lycopene intake.
Wild caught fish is also a great way to improve your prostate health. Many wild fish contain fatty acids in them known as Omega-3s.
These fatty acids help reduce inflammation of the prostate which in turn will reduce the risk of developing prostate cancer.
Be sure that the fish you are planning to consume is wild and not farm grown. The farm grown fish generally have additives in them which can be harmful.
Increased intake of green tea can also improve both your overall health and your prostate health. Because of the antioxidants that green tea contains, it is often used to detoxify the body.
The detoxification associated with green tea also helps reduce the symptoms of prostatitis and reduce the chances of prostate inflammation.
Staying away from meat and dairy is also a pretty good idea. We don’t expect you to cut out all meat and dairy, but we do suggest that you refrain from high amounts of meat and dairy consumption.
Higher calcium intake increases the risk for prostate cancer, and studies show that those with high calcium intake are over four times more likely to develop prostate cancer than those with low calcium intake.
Some speculate that high levels of calcium intake suppress the levels of Vitamin D, which can be responsible for the increased risk of prostate cancer.
Similar results are shown for those who intake higher amounts of red meat. Those who consume high levels of red meat are nearly twice as likely to develop prostate cancer as those who have a lower intake of red meat.
The most likely culprit in this situation is the effect that meat can have on the hormone profile of the consumer as well as carcinogenic effects associated with high-temperature cooked meats.
Exercise and physical activity play a huge role in reducing the chances of prostate issues. Studies show that proper exercise and a physically active lifestyle can reduce chances for prostate cancer between 10 and 30 percent.
Physical activity reduces the risk of obesity, which can contribute to prostate cancer risks. At the same time, regular exercise can help maintain proper hormone levels, which can also reduce prostate cancer risks.
Improved immune system functionality is also linked with physical activity, and this can also reduce the chances of developing prostate cancer. The message is rather clear: exercise and you will be healthier.
Countless studies have shown that proper intake of Vitamin D at all ages will help with reducing prostate cancer as well. Sufficient Vitamin D consumptions or adequate sun exposure is recommended according to many researchers.
Selenium and Zinc have both been determined to play an active role in reducing the risk of prostate cancer development.
Selenium is able to increase the functionality of your immune system which in turn can reduce the risk of cancer and promote longevity.
Studies show that consuming 200mg of selenium per day can lead to a 67 percent reduction in prostate cancer risks.
There is also a direct link between those who have prostate problems and their Zinc levels. Data shows that zinc deficiency can be directly related to prostate cancer.
Men’s Prostate Health Summary
While there are many different ways you can reduce the chances of complications related to your prostate, you should always talk to your doctor first.
It is completely possible that your symptoms aren’t related to your prostate at all and are instead a side effect of other unknown problems which you are unable to determine.
If you start taking alternative medication in an attempt to help improve a perfectly healthy prostate, there is a possibility for more damage to be done. This is exactly why you should seek advice from a medical professional.
Your doctor will be able to determine the precise causes of the symptoms. They have the tools and the knowledge to give you the most accurate diagnoses possible.
The variety of possible tests will not only determine if your prostate is at fault but also determine what specific issue is occurring.
After the diagnosis, the best course of action can be determined by both you and your doctor.
Just remember to share all the information you can with your doctor so that they can do everything in their power to help you improve your prostate health and your overall health.