What is it?
“Prostate problems” generally translate into either benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) or prostate cancer. Though there are other types of prostate problems, such as prostatitis, BPH and prostate cancer are the most prevalent. Since these prostate problems have similar symptoms, it is vital to consult with a health care provider to seek proper testing and care.
Benign prostatic hyperplasia, also known as enlarged prostate, is one of the most common health problems facing men over the age of 60. In BPH the prostate gland enlarges and eventually places pressure on the urethra. Symptoms of BPH include difficulty with urination (stopping and starting), bladder irritation, a frequent urge to urinate (particularly during the night), dribbling, and a sensation of not emptying the bladder.
Prostate cancer is the most commonly diagnosed male cancer and the second leading cause of male cancer deaths in the United States. Checkups are advisable, particularly for men who experience painful or difficult urination, blood in the urine, painful/ejaculation, impotence, or pain in the lower back.
What causes it
A common part of aging, BPH develops slowly over time. It is possible that a hormonal component may be associated with BPH. Prostate cancer may be linked to a hormonal cause, though research is still in the early stages. There is a genetic component, with men who have a family history of the disease being at higher risk compared with men who have no relatives with prostate cancer. Environmental factors also play a role in prostate cancer.
How food may help
Although more research is required in this area, some evidence does show a relationship between nutritional factors and prostate health.
Studies indicate that the antioxidant mineral selenium may protect against BPH, and it also may reduce the risk for developing prostate cancer, possibly by preventing oxidative damage to cells in the prostate gland. Selenium may protect against prostate cancer initiation, and it also may play a role in reducing prostate tumor growth by inducing apoptosis (cancer cell death).
Vitamin E teams up with selenium to confer antioxidant protection against free-radical damage to the prostate. Preliminary research also shows that vitamin E may decrease serum androgen concentrations, which are believed to be hormonal factors associated with prostate cancer.
The isoflavone genistein, found in soy foods, may help to protect against prostate cancer as well as possibly reducing tumor growth.
Preliminary research suggests that Iycopene may help to decrease DNA damage to cells in prostate tissue, and it may play a role in initiating cancer cell death.
Laboratory research also shows that the flavonoid quercetin may help to prevent and treat prostate cancer. Quercetin may block the hormonal activity in androgen-response receptors in prostate cells, preventing the growth of cancer cells. Further research is required these laboratory findings can extend into the realm of human research indicate that quercetin may also reduce symptoms of prostatitis.
- soy foods
Contains genistein – Studies show that this isoflavone may reduce prostate cancer cell growth, possibly through hormonal actions.
Contains Iycopene – Lycopene has been linked to the prevention of prostate cancer, possibly through its antioxidant properties.
- Brazil nuts
- whole grains
Contains selenium – This mineral may slow down the course of prostate cancer by inducing cancer cell death without harming healthy cells.
- sunflower seeds
- wheat germ
Contains Vitamin E – Vitamin E may protect the prostate gland, possibly through its antioxidant abilities.