What Is the Prostate?
Technically, it’s part of your sex organs. It’s a small gland, about the size of a walnut that surrounds your urethra, a tube that takes urine from the bladder to the penis. The urethra also carries semen during ejaculation. The prostate gland grows quite a lot during puberty and then doesn’t change much until about age 40, when it slowly begins growing again and, in many men, doesn’t stop. Half of men aren’t bothered by their growing prostate. But the others will develop one of three prostate diseases; enlarged prostate, prostate cancer, or prostatitis, or may have more than one.
What is BPH?
BPH — or benign prostatic hyperplasia — is the medical term for an enlarged prostate. A non-cancerous disorder, an enlarged prostate is the most common prostate health problem among men. Half of men between the ages of 50 and 60 will develop it, and by the age of 80, about 90 percent will have experienced BPH symptoms.
It may result in a range of uncomfortable symptoms such as frequent urination, incomplete emptying of the bladder, a weak urine stream or difficulty starting urination. As the prostate slowly continues to enlarge, symptoms may gradually worsen, interfering with sleep, physical comfort and routine activities. In rare cases, an untreated enlarged prostate may lead to an inability to urinate, incontinence, bladder stones, kidney infections, and damage to the bladder, kidneys and urethra.
What are the symptoms of BPH?
Symptoms of BPH vary with each individual. They may include:
- Frequent, often-urgent need to urinate, especially at night
- Need to strain or push to get the urine flowing
- Inability to completely empty the bladder
- Dribbling or leaking after urination
- Weak urine stream
Because male urinary symptoms can also be caused by more serious conditions, such as prostate cancer, it’s important to see your doctor to determine the cause of your symptoms.
How common is BPH?
By about age 50, about half of all men have begun to develop an enlarged prostate. And by age 80, 90 percent of all men have the condition.
What Is Prostate Cancer?
Cells are the body’s building blocks. Normally, cells grow and divide in an orderly way to form new cells. When cells grow old, they are automatically “programmed” to die and are replaced with new cells.
In cancer, however, cells grow, multiply, and divide out of control, or old cells no longer die like they’re supposed to. Such cells form a mass of tissue called a growth or tumor. When cancer cells in a tumor continue to multiply and spread to other parts of the body, the cancer is considered to be metastatic.
Symptoms of Prostate Cancer
NOT ALL MEN HAVE SYMPTOMS
Symptoms are not always present with prostate cancer. For men who do experience symptoms, the most common ones include:
- Urinary problems
- Having the inability to pass urine or doing so with difficulty
- Having a hard time starting or stopping urine flow
- Needing to urinate often, especially at night
- Having a weak urine flow
- Having pain or burning while urinating
- Problems having an erection (erectile dysfunction)
- Blood in the urine or semen
- Frequent pain in the lower back, hips, or upper thighs
Diagnosing Prostate Cancer
REGULAR PHYSICAL EXAMS ARE KEY
Your doctor can detect prostate cancer even if you do not have symptoms. That’s why it’s so important to have regular physical exams. Early detection means your prostate cancer can be treated sooner.
What is PSA?
PSA is the abbreviation for prostate-specific antigen, a protein, specifically an enzyme that liquifies the semen. PSA is produced by prostate cells. When there is an increase in the number or the size of the cells PSA leaks to the bloodstream.
The two most common causes of PSA rise in the bloodstream are benign prostatic hypertrophy and prostate cancer.
Elevations in PSA are easily detected thru a blood test.
Can Prostate Cancer Be Prevented?
The straight answer is yes, the more complex issue is how. A family history of prostate cancer – father, grandfather, brother, uncles – increases the risk of development prostate cancer and must put men at risk on offense. However, this does not prevent it.
Epidemiological studies suggest a strong relation between diet and the emergence of prostate cancer. As a matter of fact, prostate cancer is the most common solid malignancy in the Western Hemisphere. The risk of prostate cancer is low for men who are born and raised in Japan. However, men born in Japan but raised in the United States have a 1 in 6 chance of developing prostate cancer. This represents about the same risk for caucasians and hispanics but is far less than for african american men. The type of food intake and overall lifestyle is critical determining prostate cancer risk.
TAKING A CLOSER LOOK AT LIFESTYLE AND DIET
Scientists are taking a closer look at the possible link between lifestyle changes and prostate cancer. Studies are underway to find out whether certain heart-healthy behaviors could lower the risk of developing prostate cancer. Among the behaviors and lifestyle changes being studied are 8,32,33:
- Lowering cholesterol
- Lowering blood pressure
- Weight loss
Epidemiological data clearly shows that our standard diet does not help nourish the prostate but rather is strongly associated with chronic illness from it. Notwithstanding, the many compounds showing benefits, they are not ingested on a regular meal. The challenge is how to provide prostate balanced nutrients on a daily basis.
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