5 Ways to Be Prostate Proactive
This small gland can be a source of big medical problems, especially in older men. Most, like inflammation and infection, are benign conditions, but all men are at risk of developing prostate cancer, and the risk increases with age. Here are some prostate-protective tips to share with the men in your life.
Know the Risk Factors
Most men, as they age, experience some type of prostate-related problem. Aging and a family history of prostate cancer also increase a man's risk of developing prostate cancer. For reasons that are unclear, African-American men are at higher risk of dying from prostate cancer than Caucasian men.
Recognize the Symptoms
Some of the common conditions that affect the prostate gland are benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), which is an enlarged prostate gland, and prostatitis, which is inflammation of the prostate, often due to bacterial infection. A common symptom of BPH is frequent and often urgent need to urinate. Prostatitis causes painful or difficult urination.
Get Regular Checkups
Only a doctor can accurately diagnose prostate conditions, so it is important to make an appointment with your doctor if any symptoms are present. For men age 50 and above, doctors may routinely order a PSA (prostate-specific antigen) test at annual physical examinations. For men with a family history or other risk factors, a doctor may recommend testing as early as age 40. PSA measurements are used to detect both benign and cancerous prostate conditions.
In addition to all the rules for healthy eating that are recommended for almost everyone-cutting down on salt and saturated fats, avoiding too much sugar, and increasing the amount of whole grains, legumes, and deeply colored fresh fruits and vegetables you eat-there are some recommendations specifically geared toward men who are concerned about prostate health. These include limiting or avoiding red meats and processed meats such as cold cuts, frankfurters and sausages. To maintain a healthy weight, eat small to moderate portion sizes.
Cut Back on Alcohol
Based on the results of large research studies showing that men who drink alcohol oly in moderation have a lower risk of developing BPH, experts at the University of Idaho Coeur d'Alene recommend consuming no more than two glasses of alcoholic beverages a day. A University of California study, published in a 2009 issue of the journal Cancer, found that heavy drinking-defined as four or more drinks daily-was found to increase the risk of high-grade prostate cancer and reduce the effectiveness of medication used to treat it.
Physical activity, especially aerobic exercise, may help protect against BPH and improve symptoms of prostatitis, according to Harvard Medical School. And, according to a University of Texas Health Science Center study, published in a 2011 issue of World Journal of Urology, physical activity may even help prevent prostate cancer in some men.
Gong, Z. et al; "Alcohol Consumption, Finasteride, and Prostate Cancer Risk Cancer 2009 Aug 15;115(16):3661-9 Web 12 Jan 2012
Harvard Medical School: Prostate Knowledge Web 12 Jan 2012
National Cancer Institute: Prostate-Specific Antigen
Ohio State University Medical Center: Anatomy of the Prostate Gland Web 12 Jan 2012
University of Idaho Coeur d' Alene: Foods for Prostate Health Web 12 Jan 2012
Young-McCaughan, S. "Potential for Prostate Cancer Prevention Through Physical Activity." World Journal of Urology 2011 Dec 24 epub Web 12 Jan 2012
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