If you’re a male, Movember is the one month out of the year that you can grow a moustache without complaints from your wife or girlfriend because you’re helping bring awareness to men’s health issues and who can argue with that? Fun fact: “Mo” is Aussie slang for moustache, which is where “Movember” got its name. So let’s talk men’s health issues, increase awareness and more importantly, discuss prevention!
If you’re a male, you’ve probably heard of prostatitis (inflammation of the prostate), benign prostatic hyperplasia (aka BPH, enlargement of the prostate) and prostate cancer (malignant growth of prostate tissue). If you’re a male in your 50’s you have a 20% chance of being diagnosed with BPH. If you’re a male in your 60’s you have a 50% chance and if you’re a male in your 70’s you have a 70% chance. You don’t have to be good at math to know those odds aren’t good. Additionally, men have a 50% chance of experiencing prostatitis at some point in their lifetime and if that’s not enough, prostate cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death among men. Those statistics alone are enough that every man should make prostate health a priority!
Here’s some ways your can help your prostate:
Lycopene- lycopene is a potent antioxidant found in tomatoes (even better in cooked tomatoes). There have been studies that suggest that lycopene can lower the risk of developing prostate related diseases.
Zinc- the prostate is capable of containing the highest concentration of zinc that any other tissue in the body. When the prostate is supplied with enough zinc, it can inhibit processes that contribute to cancer formation. Zinc can be found in a variety of foods such as, beef, port, chickpeas, cashews, garlic, pumpkin seeds, egg yokes and salmon.
Saw Palmetto - is a plant whose extracts have been shown to improve BPH symptoms. It can be taken in the supplement form.
Green Tea- along with its anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer effects, components in green tea inhibit the formation of and enzyme called 5-alpha reductase, which causes prostate cells to proliferate leading to BPH and can contribute to prostate cancer.
Vitamin D- Make sure your vitamin D levels are adequate (the majority of the population’s are not..) even if you’re out in the sun a lot) Vitamin D levels have been associated with reduced risk of prostate abnormalities. Testing blood levels, then supplementing appropriately, followed by re-testing in 3 month is the best way to optimize your levels. Vitamin D can be especially important during the winter months, as there is less sun exposure and other people tend to get sick.
Symptoms of Prostate Dysfunction:
Hesitancy–- difficulty starting urine stream
Frequency-– having to urinate often
Intermittent Stream–- urine stream stops and start
Nocturia–- frequent urination at night
Incontinence–- inability to hold urine, involuntary urination
Relevant Testing for Prostate Health:
PSA – aka Prostate Specific Antigen. This is a particular substance secreted by the prostate and if elevated can be useful in diagnosing or tracking progress various prostate disorders.
Free PSA -. This is the unbound, bioactive form of PSA in the body. Some studies show this is a more accurate marker for following prostate health.
Inflammatory Markers – there are a variety of inflammatory markers if the body that are useful to measure when attempting to better understand the underlying process of a disease manifestation.
Urinalysis – useful to rule out bacterial infections.
Hormone Testing – abnormal prostate growth, whether BPH or cancer is often hormonally driven. As men age, their hormone levels, particularly testosterone and estrogen can change and also they way they metabolize their hormones can change as well. This can contribute to prostate dysfunction and thus it is incredibly relevant to understand not only hormone levels but also hormone metabolism.
By: Katie Koniakowsky and Derek Lawrence
Nick, Gina, PhD, ND. "Therapuedic Nutrition." Townsend Letter December (2004): n. pag. Web. 12 Oct. 2015. <http://www.townsendletter.com/Dec2004/Dec2004.htm>.
Lowe FC. Review of recent placebo-controlled trials utilizing phytotherapeutic agents for treatment of BPH. Prostate 1998; 37(3):187-193.