This month expert Dr. Ludovic Brunel discusses enlarged prostate and potential problems in men. You’re never too young to start paying attention. Please read on:
Prostate problems are incredibly common. To make these problems even worse, men are often unaware of their bodies, and few understand the risk factors or the signs associated with an enlarged prostate. Additionally, men are frequently reluctant to undergo prostate exams to screen for this problem. This is a serious issue, especially regarding prostate cancer, as studies show that men often present with advanced stages of the condition.[i] Diagnosis of advanced prostate cancer remains a major health problem and is more difficult to treat than problems that are identified early.
Given that about one in eight Canadian men is expected to develop prostate cancer during his lifetime and that the majority of men will develop a benign enlargement of the prostate, understanding the symptoms associated with the condition is crucial.
Although symptoms are not always present, the most common problems associated with an enlarged prostate include:
- Waking up many times at night to urinate
- Having pain or a burning feeling when urinating
- Having blood in your urine
- Having difficulty urinating
- A weaker than normal stream
- Feeling that the bladder is not empty after urination
- Urinary frequency
In terms of the risks associated with the development of prostate problems, some significant risk factors are uncontrollable and include being over the age of 50 and having a family history of prostate cancer. Other risk factors are modifiable and can be precluded by having a healthy weight and eating properly. In terms of diet, men that consume more saturated fat have a higher risk of developing prostate cancer. Certain diseases and medications can also increase the risk of developing an enlarged prostate. For instance, patients with diabetes are at increased risk and so are patients with heart disease – especially if they are taking beta blockers. Exercise also helps to reduce the incidence of developing an enlarged prostate.
If you are already experiencing problems related to an enlarged prostate, there are several potential treatments.
Prostate cancer prevention: Several natural treatments have been shown to hold promise for the prevention of prostate cancer. For example, there is some evidence that lower selenium levels are associated with an increased risk of prostate cancer. Early studies also suggest that higher lycopene levels may be associated with a lower risk of developing prostate cancer.
Treatment of prostate cancer: Needless to say that prostate cancer is a serious health condition characterized by the uncontrollable growth of cells in the prostate gland. If you are experiencing any signs of an enlarged prostate, you should see your medical doctor as soon as possible to get assessed.
Benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH): By age 60, over half of men have some prostate enlargement. By age 70, over 90% of men have an enlarged prostate. If your prostate issues have been attributed to BPH, several natural options are available. Treatment options are usually centered on an enzyme called 5-alpha reductase. This enzyme leads to the conversion of testosterone into a more dangerous metabolite called Dihydrotestosterone (DHT). By reducing the conversion of testosterone into DHT, medications and natural medicines can help to reduce the severity of symptoms associated with an enlarged prostate. For this reason, stinging nettle root is a particularly interesting ingredient having been shown to be capable of reducing the activity of 5-alpha-reductase.[ii] Other ingredients with similar activities include beta-sitosterol,[iii] lycopene,[iv] and Pygeum.[v] Flower pollen extract has also been shown to be a powerful anti-inflammatory capable of reducing the symptoms associated with an enlarged prostate.
[ii] Safarinejad, MR. Urtica dioica for treatment of benign prostatic hyperplasia: A prospective, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, crossover study. 2005. Journal of herbal pharmacotherapy 5 (4): 1–11.
[iii] Berges RR, Windeler J, Trampisch HJ, et al. Randomised, placebo-controlled, double-blind clinical trial of beta-sitosterol in patients with benign prostatic hyperplasia. Beta-sitosterol Study Group. Lancet 1995;345:1529-32
[iv] Schwarz, S., Obermuller-Jevic, U. C., Hellmis, E., Koch, W., Jacobi, G., and Biesalski, H. K. Lycopene inhibits disease progression in patients with benign prostate hyperplasia. J Nutr 2008;138(1):49-53
[v] Barlet A, Albrecht J, Aubert A, et al. [Efficacy of Pygeum africanum extract in the medical therapy of urination disorders due to benign prostatic hyperplasia: evaluation of objective and subjective parameters. A placebo-controlled, double-blind, multicenter study]. Wien Klin Wochenschr 1990;102:667-73.