Prevention for Prostate Disease?
Is there any effective preventive therapy to help us 50-year-olds protect against prostate disease?
You're very wise to be thinking about prevention. And fortunately, there are lots of things you can do. The prostate is a chestnut-sized gland in men that surrounds the urethra at the neck of the bladder. It secretes a fluid that contributes to semen. Older men often are troubled with enlargement of the prostate, (BPH, benign prostatic hypertrophy), which interferes with urination. If your prostate is enlarged, you may have increased frequency of urination, decreased force, dribbling and waking at night to empty your bladder (nocturia). Cancer of the prostate is a very common form of cancer in men, its frequency increasing with age. It is more likely to occur in men who eat a high meat, high fat diet, few fruits and vegetables and little fiber.
So you see it makes sense to treat this gland well. The most important thing is to get plenty of water, because dehydration stresses the prostate. Then there's a lot you can do with your diet. First, add soybeans. They reduce the risk of both prostatic enlargement and prostate cancer. Second, eat less fat. Fat increases testosterone, which increases the likelihood of both BPH and cancer. You've probably heard about tomatoes: In one very large study reported in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute in 1995, men who ate just two servings of tomatoes a week -- raw, as sauce or in pizza -- had a 34 percent less risk of developing prostate cancer. Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables in addition to tomatoes, and get lots of fiber. In particular, African-American men, who have a higher risk for prostate cancer, should take advantage of these natural protectants.
Here are some things to avoid: Prostate irritants such as coffee and decaffeinated coffee, alcohol, tobacco and red pepper. Too much jarring motion to your seat, as can happen riding a bicycle, motorcycle or a horse. Prolonged sitting. Also, both too frequent and too infrequent ejaculation. Finally, zinc deficiency can lead to prostate problems, so make sure you get enough, either by eating pumpkin seeds or taking zinc supplements. A good preventive dosage is 30 milligrams once a day.
If you do experience prostate enlargement, I'd advise taking saw palmetto, an herbal remedy made from the partially dried berries of Serenoa repens, a small, scrubby palm native to the southeastern United States. Saw palmetto protects the prostate from the irritating effects of testosterone and promotes shrinkage of the gland. The best form is a standardized extract, taken as 160 milligrams twice a day. It is nontoxic. Another herb, Pygeum africanum, also is beneficial to the prostate and may be added to saw palmetto formulas.