When Do Men Need to Start Thinking About Prostate Health?
All men are at risk of developing prostate health problems. Whether that's deadly prostate cancer — it's one of the most common cancers affecting men, with prostate cancer rates going up year after year — or something more benign like an enlarged prostate (a whopping 50% of older men have this condition), it's important for men of all ages to care for their prostate health proactively.
Understanding Your Prostate
- The prostate produces some of the fluids necessary for creating semen
- The muscles in the prostate are partially responsible for the actual act of ejaculation
- Your prostate helps convert testosterone — an important element of muscle building and male health — into biologically active DHT (dihydrotestosterone)
Yet many men pay this gland no mind and aren't aware of the numerous potential prostate health problems that could arise.
Common Prostate Health Concerns For Men
There are three main health problems that could affect your prostate:
- Prostate cancer, which is the second most common cancer for men (after skin cancer) and the fourth most common type of cancer overall
- Prostate inflammation, technically known as prostatitis, which can lead to pain around your groin and even in your lower back, hips, and chest
- Enlarged prostate, medically referred to as benign prostatic hyperplasia, which will affect nearly all men at some point in their lives and can lead to urinary problems
Because prostate cancer affects so many men, proactively screening for prostate cancer is critical.
When Should You Begin Screening for Prostate Cancer?
According to the American Cancer Society's recently updated 2023 guidelines, the right time to get your first prostate exam and be checked for prostate cancer depends on your risk levels:
- Age 50: This is the average age when doctors suggest most men begin screening for prostate cancer
- Age 45: Talk to your doctor about getting screened earlier than average if you have an immediate family member (i.e., a parent, sibling, or child) who was diagnosed with prostate cancer before age 65
- Age 40: You will want to start your screening even sooner if you have more than one immediate family member who had prostate cancer before turning 65
What Does a Prostate Cancer Exam Look Like?
There are two ways to do a prostate cancer test. The first is via a blood test. Your doctor will send your bloodwork to a lab that measures your levels of prostate-specific antigen (PSA). This is a type of protein made in your prostate. The typical level in healthy men is 4 ng/mL of blood, but this number rises if you develop prostate cancer:
- Levels 4-10: You have a 25% chance of having prostate cancer
- Levels 10+: You have a 50% or higher chance of having prostate cancer
Another way to check your prostate health is through a rectal examination. This type of prostate exam takes just a few moments and involves your doctor inserting a gloved, lubricated finger to manually feel your prostate. This physical exam isn't painful, and the American Cancer Society reports that it can be more effective at identifying prostate problems in men who have so-called "normal" PSA levels.
If your doctor identifies anything of concern with either tests, they may order more tests or do a prostate biopsy to confirm or rule out prostate cancer.
How Often Do You Need to Get Screened For Prostate Cancer?
Screenings are typically recommended every 2-4 years, but it all depends on what your tests show, your age, and your risk factors. Your doctor can advise a personalized schedule for when you need to start screening, and how often you should be checked.
Risk Factors for Prostate Cancer and Other Prostate Health Problems
Age is the biggest factor. Basically, the older you get (and especially once you celebrate your 50th birthday), the more at risk you are of developing prostate cancer or an enlarged prostate. Other prostate health risk factors include:
- Your race: Men of African descent have higher rates of prostate cancer than any other demographic
- Your diet: Those who eat a North American or Western diet see higher rates of prostate health concerns
- Your family history: Genetics plays a role, and the more family members you have who have prostate cancer, the higher your risks
- Your weight: Being overweight or obese is linked to a rise in all forms of cancer, including prostate cancer
But prostate health problems don't have to be inevitable. While some things are outside of your control, such as your genetics, there are many lifestyle habits and changes you can make to improve your prostate health for better hormone balance and improved sexual health.
How to Improve Your Prostate Health and Reduce Prostate Cancer Risks
Eat, exercise, and live your way to better prostate health.
1. Lose Weight and Maintain a Healthy Weight
We've long known that rates of prostate cancer and other cancers go up in conjunction with weight gain. But a groundbreaking study shows how even weight gain in your younger years plays a role. In a 2023 report that analyzed 250,000 men, those who gained unhealthy weight before the age of 30 were nearly 30% more likely to be diagnosed with fatal prostate cancer.
While it's far from perfect, measuring your body mass index (BMI) and maintaining a healthy BMI is a great way to monitor your weight and ensure you're staying in the right range. If you want to get more hands-on, you can also track your body fat percentages and aim for a maximum percentage of 24% or lower.
2. Eat (and Avoid) the Right Foods For Prostate Health
You are what you eat, and the same is true for your prostate. There are certain foods that have been shown to help (and sabotage) your prostate health and influence your prostate cancer risks.
When evaluating your diet, reduce or eliminate your intake of processed foods and red meat. Meanwhile, foods that have been shown to boost prostate health and reduce your chances of developing prostate cancer include:
- Tomato products
- Soy-based foods, such as tempeh and tofu
- Cabbage, kale, broccoli, and other cruciferous vegetables, which have been shown to lower the rates of all forms of cancer
- Foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon and flaxseed
4. Exercise Regularly
Exercise helps in many ways. For one, it helps you to manage your weight. It also reduces stress, with stress increasing the need for urination (which can be uncomfortable for those with an enlarged prostate or prostate inflammation). Finally, it helps prevent and slow the growth of prostate cancer. For example, one study found that compared to men who don't exercise, those who did strenuous cardio for just three hours a week cut their risk of prostate cancer progression by more than half.
Most studies have focused on how cardio influences prostate health. Think beyond the treadmill! These four types of cardio will help you reinvigorate your aerobic workouts for a healthier mind, body, and prostate!
7. Take Prostate Health-Enhancing Supplements
Studies show promising results for specific herbal supplements. Some of the most evidence-backed ingredients include:
- Saw palmetto: It's a natural inflammatory, and it may offer numerous prostate health benefits like improving urination flow and reducing prostate health problems
- Beta-sitosterol: This plant-based chemical may reduce prostate inflammation and swelling, and even reduce your risks of prostate cancer
- Pollen extract: It's also an anti-inflammatory, and it may reduce swelling and pain for men who have prostate health problems
While more research is needed, other supplements that show promising results for men's prostate health include stinging nettle root, pumpkin seed oil, and vitamins like zinc, vitamin D, and selenium.
Experience Better Prostate Health With Tiger Fitness
At Tiger Fitness, you can find an array of best-selling prostate health supplements that may reduce your cancer risks and boost your sexual health and vitality. Examples include Blackstone Lab's Gear Support — designed to support your prostate, liver, and other organs — and Core Nutritionals' Lifeline Prostate, which includes lycopene (the active compound in tomatoes that may reduce prostate cancer risks), flax seed, pumpkin seed oil, saw palmetto, and more. See how these supplements can jumpstart your sex life and prostate health at Tiger Fitness today!