What Every Guy Needs to Know About Prostate Health
Keeping your prostate healthy is something all men need to think about as they get older. By knowing what supports prostate health and what elevates the risk for prostate health problems, you can tweak your lifestyle to help keep prostate problems, including cancer, at bay.
What Is the Prostate?
The prostate gland functions as part of the male reproductive system, located in the pelvis between the bladder and penis. Its muscles ensure semen is forcefully expelled during ejaculation. The prostate also produces fluid that makes up semen.
Why Worry About Prostate Health?
According to the American Cancer Society, one in eight men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in their lifetime. Prostate cancer is the most serious out of three common prostate problems:
1. Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH)
Also known as enlarged prostate, BPH is the most common prostate problem men experience, and thankfully it's non-cancerous. It's caused by the growing prostate size into old age and can result in the more frequent urge to urinate, especially at night.
Prostatitis is an inflammatory condition accompanied by pain. An acute or ongoing bacterial infection can cause it. If the cause is not bacterial, it may result from chronic pelvic pain syndrome (CPPS).
3. Prostate Cancer
Out of all cancer types, lung cancer, colon cancer, and prostate cancer are the most common among men. Data from the American Institute for Cancer Research shows that 15% of cancer cases in men are prostate cancer.
Early detection is critical for prostate cancer. Transrectal ultrasound (TRUS) and MRI are two common imaging tests used for prostate cancer detection. While the cancer cells begin in the prostate gland, aggressive prostate cancer can spread to the lungs, lymphatic system, or bones and lead to secondary tumors.
Risk Factors for Prostate Diseases
Three major factors raise your risk for developing prostate problems:
According to the CDC, men over the age of 65 make up 60% of prostate cancer cases, but all men are at risk.
If one or more of your relatives, whether your father, brother, or uncle on your paternal or maternal side, have been diagnosed with prostate cancer at any time, you may have a higher risk. If your family members have had ovarian cancer, breast cancer, or pancreatic cancer, it may also mean you have an elevated risk for prostate cancer.
Working in a profession that involves exposure to certain chemicals could increase your risk for prostate cancer. For example, firefighters, sewer workers, and farmers working with pesticides are exposed to cancer-causing chemicals linked to prostate cancer.
Signs and Symptoms that Could Indicate Prostate Issues
Early detection is so important for prostate cancer because it doesn't typically cause noticeable symptoms until the cancer has grown.
Monitoring Your Prostate Health
First, look into your family history. If someone related to you has had prostate cancer, the American Cancer Society recommends an annual prostate check after age 45. Otherwise, every 2 or 3 years have your prostate checked once turning 45 since your risk increases with age.
Rectal examination and prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood screening are the methods used to check for prostate problems, and many doctors recommend both. Imaging is only required if a problem is detected through one of these methods.
Best Ways to Prevent Prostate Problems
Eating a healthy diet, watching your weight, and getting plenty of exercise tend to be the best ways to prevent any common disease. When it comes to preventing prostate problems, there are prevention measures you can incorporate into your lifestyle, and it's never too early to start.
Lean Toward an Anti-Inflammatory Diet
When it comes to reducing your risk for cancer, an anti-inflammatory diet is the most beneficial. Inflammation is one of the major risk factors for developing cancer of any type, according to research published in Nature. Chronic inflammation has also been found to help enable cancer growth.
In a 2019 study, researchers found that an anti-inflammatory diet is associated with a statistically significant reduction in your risk for cancer. Anti-inflammatory foods tend to be high in antioxidant-rich vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients with protective effects. Antioxidants like vitamins A, C, E, copper, and zinc help protect against cancer cell growth.
Plus, you will improve your physique and performance will improve exponentially with the increased micronutrients and increased protein intake.
Opting for whole foods like fruits, vegetables, nuts, legumes, and lean proteins will give you the most nutrients, and they're the least inflammatory. Processed grains and dairy foods tend to be the most inflammatory. Some research has linked increased dairy consumption to a higher risk for prostate cancer, but other studies have found no link.
Eat the Right Fats
Avoid trans fats and limit your intake of poor quality meats. Nuts, avocados, seeds, grass-fed, free-range meats, and fish are excellent sources of anti-inflammatory essential fatty acids that don't cause high cholesterol.
Supplement with Vitamin E
Studies have demonstrated that vitamin E has a preventative effect on prostate cancer. A study on nearly 30 thousand male smokers found that those who supplemented with 50 IU of vitamin E daily for 5 to 8 years had a 32 percent less likelihood of developing prostate cancer than men who didn’t supplement.
As an antioxidant, vitamin E protects cells from free radical damage and may lower your risk of heart disease.
Take Saw Palmetto
Saw palmetto is an herb used medicinally for men to reduce benign prostatic hypertrophy or enlarged prostate. It works not by shrinking the prostate but shrinking its inner lining that presses against the urethra.
Drink Green Tea
Natural compounds found in green tea are shown to lower the risk for prostate cancer by helping to kill cancer cells and inhibit their growth. You can add matcha green tea powder to smoothies or enjoy green tea hot or cold.