How To Protect Your Prostate
September is Prostate Cancer Awareness Month and let’s face it, your prostate is probably not something you think too much about, unless it’s keeping you up at night or making it hard to urinate.
Prostate cancer is one of the most common cancers among men. In fact, one in seven men will be diagnosed in their lifetime. The need for awareness, testing and education is great. The message every man needs to hear is, “you should be concerned about your prostate and prostate health.”
Over the past twenty years the death rate from prostate cancer has dropped by close to forty percent, but it’s estimated that close to 4,000 men will die annually from the disease. Early testing and detection is key to treatment and survival.
In addition, fourteen million American men suffer symptoms of poor prostate health and it takes a toll on everyday life. These symptoms include:
1. Standing in front of the toilet waiting for urination to begin, not knowing when you’re finished and never feeling like you’re “empty”
2. Waking up multiple times per night to use the restroom
3. Road trips or a round of golf becomes fraught with tension over when you will need to visit the restroom
What is the prostate?
The prostate is a walnut-shaped gland that makes the fluid in semen. When the prostate swells, it’s known as benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). When it swells it presses against the urethra (as if you’re pinching a straw). This reduces the flow of urine and becomes more problematic as it gets larger.
The causes of prostate issues
The exact cause of BPH are still unknown but there are a few likely suspects including:
1. Hormonal imbalances. When men age, their testosterone levels drop and an enzyme called aromatase converts testosterone into estrogen. A high concentration of estrogen-related enzymes lead to a swollen prostate.
2. DHT. This growth hormone plays a role in prostate growth and health. When a man’s body continues to convert testosterone to DHT, the prostate grows beyond its normal size. Men whose bodies don’t produce DHT don’t seem to develop prostate issues.
3. Chronic inflammation in the body. Inflammation is your body’s normal response to health issues and injuries. Factors like stress, poor diet and elevated blood sugar keep your body in a state of constant inflammation and this inflammation is observed in 43-98% of prostate tissue.
What is prostate cancer screening?
When you get screened for prostate cancer, you’re being proactive and talking with your doctor before symptoms arise. Prostate cancer screening can find the potential for prostate cancer in its early stages.
There are two types of screening:
1. Prostate specific antigen (PSA) blood test
2. Digital, rectal examination
What is the prostate specific antigen? PSA is a substance made by the prostate; the blood test measures the level of PSA in the blood. If the PSA level is high, it can be an indication you may have prostate cancer.
However, PSA levels may be high because of other reasons including:
1. Certain medications you’re taking
2. Prostate infection
3. Enlarged, but not necessarily cancerous
Who should get tested for prostate cancer?
Do you need to get screened? There are several factors that should lead to your making an appointment with your doctor and undergoing a screening.
1. If you have a family history
2. If you have underlying health issues that could make prostate cancer treatments more difficult
3. If you’re having issues with urination
4. When you turn fifty-years-old
5. If you’re seeking a baseline
The benefits of screening
Screening tests for prostate cancer may find it before it spreads to other parts of the body. Early detection leads to early treatment and lowers your chance of death.
Most prostate cancers are slow growing and may not lead to further health issues. But, if a screening test discovers a slow-growing prostate cancer, it can lead to undue worry, unneeded treatments and tests.
A biopsy is one foolproof way to determine whether the prostate is cancerous. During the biopsy, a small piece of tissue is removed from the prostate and examined to check for cancerous cells.
What are prostate cancer treatments?
1. Radiation, either radiation light treatments or radioactive seeds implanted near the tumor
2. Prostate removal
3. “Active surveillance” which means regular testing
4. Hormone therapy
5. Cryotherapy, the freezing of cancer cells
6. Chemotherapy drugs to shrink or kill prostate cancer cells
7. High intensity focused ultrasound that produces waves to deliver heat energy to kill cancer cells.
Lifestyle changes and supplements can improve prostate health
By the age of 50, close to fifty percent of men will experience declining prostate health. By the age of 80, more than eighty percent of men will have prostate health issues. Because of the high percentage of prostate health impacts, it’s become an accepted part of aging, but you don’t have to accept declining prostate health.
This doesn’t mean you have to “accept” your fate. You can change your lifestyle at any point in your life. You can add supplements and change your diet no matter your age and in some cases these changes can reverse the ravages that diet and lifestyle have wrought on your body.
How can you alleviate prostate symptoms?
Improve your prostate health by making lifestyle changes, eating more healthily and taking supplements.
Here are some options to implement to live a healthier life and have a healthier prostate.
Make lifestyle changes. Limit alcohol and caffeine. Limiting these liquids may reduce your need to urinate; they won’t address a prostate issue but can alleviate symptoms.
Medication may solve the problem of BPH by relaxing the prostate muscle or blocking the body’s production of DHT. An “alpha blocker” may relax the prostate muscle and allow you to more easily urinate.
Surgery is the last and most drastic way to address a prostate issue. Having an enlarged prostate removed is both painful and can lead to erectile dysfunction.
Natural ways to support prostate health
As with almost any health condition, you may find natural remedies to alleviate symptoms, but don’t do this to the detriment of your health by eschewing other treatment options.
Don’t buy those “too good to be true” remedies and treatments, because they are usually just that – too good to be true.
Here are natural ways to protect your prostate health
1. Diet and exercise. A healthy diet, low in sugar and processed foods and high in fruits, vegetables and lean proteins may slow the progression of prostate cancer. Exercise and interval training also improve your health.
2. Flaxseed. Research has shown that flaxseed can slow the growth of prostate tumors.
3. Green tea. A compound in green tea, EGCG, may decrease and even kill cancerous cells.
4. Vitamin D. It’s been found that men with prostate cancer tend to have less vitamin D in their systems than men without prostate cancer. Boost your levels of Vitamin D by taking supplements, you won’t get enough vitamin D from dairy products.
5. Lycopene. This is a natural pigment found in tomatoes and has been studied for the effect it has on cancerous tumors. Tomatoes and other lycopene-heavy fruits and vegetables are part of a healthy diet, and a healthy diet can slow the disease.
6. Turmeric. This spice, taken in supplement form or in powder form added to food or drinks may prevent the onset of prostate cancer. Turmeric can also ease the inflammation in the body and inflammation is an internal stressor to all of our organs.
7. Stress relieving activities. Try yoga, walking, swimming or other activities that are stress-relieving for you. Alleviating stress may slow the progression of cancer.
8. Consider Betarol daily. This daily supplement nourishes prostate health. It contains several forms and derivatives of beta-sitosterol, a highly regarded beneficial plant sterol for the prostate. Betarol contains saw palmetto, pumpkin seed oil, pygeum aficanum herbal extract and isoflavones – all studied for their ability to promote prostate health, urinary functioning and healthy inflammatory processes in the body.
Don’t wait for your doctor to tell you, “there’s something wrong with your prostate.” Implement lifestyle changes today. Add supplements to your diet to enhance those items you’re not getting enough of through the foods that you eat. Take care of your prostate!