In 1853, J. Adams, a surgeon at The London Hospital, described the first case of prostate cancer, which he discovered by examining the cells of the prostate. Adams noted in his report that this condition was “a very rare disease”. Astoundingly, about 170 years later, prostate cancer and other diseases of the prostate have become significant and relatively frequently occurring health challenges.
In this article, we will look at what the prostate is, what it does in your body, diseases that may affect it, and tips on how you can maintain and promote your its health.
What is prostate?
The prostate is a gland in the male reproductive system that surrounds the urethra (a tube that transmits urine from the bladder to the exterior of the body during urination) and is located just below the bladder. It’s function is basically to produce prostate fluid (seminal fluid), which nourishes and protects sperm. The muscles of the prostate gland also help propel this seminal fluid into the urethra during ejaculation. The prostate weighs approximately 20 grams, and is about the size of a walnut. Men have prostate, women don’t.
Diseases of the prostate:
There are three major diseases that may affect the prostate:
- Prostatitis: This is inflammation of the prostate, in some cases caused by infection. This disease is often short term and usually resolves within days to weeks. It is typically treated with antibiotics.
- Enlarged prostate: This is a growth of the prostrate, called Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH). More than half of men in their 60s suffer from BPH, and by age 70 or 80, a man’s chance of suffering from BPH jumps to 90 percent. Symptoms include frequent urination, dribbling or leaking urine, and a stuttered or weak stream. This condition can be treated using medicine or by surgery.
- Prostate cancer: Besides skin cancer, prostate cancer is the most common form of cancer in men. According to the American Cancer Society, more than 190,000 new cases of prostate cancer are diagnosed in the U.S. each year. The news is no different in Africa as cases of prostate cancer increase by day. In some of these cases, monitoring is recommended. Other types are aggressive and require radiation, surgery, hormone therapy, chemotherapy or other treatments.
Fortunately, there is a lot you can do to reduce your chances of having any of the aforementioned prostate conditions, especially prostate cancer.
The following tips are based on several scientific studies and they will help you both to maintain and promote your prostate health.
1. Go red! Yes, red is the colour that keeps you ahead of the game! Tomatoes, watermelons, pink grapefruits, guava, pawpaw and other red foods owe their bright colour to lycopene, a powerful antioxidant. Recent studies show that consuming these fruits will reduce your risk of prostate cancer.
Cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage and brussels sprouts, are also good choices. Fruits and vegetables are a good step toward a healthy prostate. Also, by eating fruits and vegetables throughout the day, you’ll be less likely to fill up on processed food.
2. Make healthy choices about fats: People who live in countries where high-fat diets are the norm are more likely to develop prostate cancer than people who live in countries where less fat is consumed. A 2014 study notes there may be a link between animal fats and an increased risk of prostate cancer. In addition to meat, animal fats are found in lard, butter, and cheese. Whenever possible, replace animal-based fats with plant-based fats. Also try to use olive oil instead of butter; fruit instead of candy; fresh vegetables instead of prepackaged foods; nuts or seeds instead of cheese.
3. Choose plant protein over animal protein: Certain plants can provide all the protein you need for maximum overall and prostate health. The World Health Organization also noted that “diets high in red meat, dairy products, and animal fat have frequently been implicated in the development of prostate cancer.” Also be aware that, overcooking meat produces carcinogens, so be careful not to overcook your meat.
4. Another cup of coffee may help:Indulging a coffee habit is linked to a decreased risk of fatal prostate cancer. According to a 2014 review of clinical studies, drinking four to five cups of coffee every day can lower your chances of fatal and high-grade prostate cancer. Regardless of how many cups you drink overall, every three cups of coffee you drink can reduce your risk of fatal prostate cancer about 11 percent.
However, high doses of caffeine can cause major health issues, such as irregular heartbeat and seizures. The Mayo Clinic cautions against ingesting more than 400 milligrams of caffeine a day, the equivalent of four cups of brewed coffee.
5. Consume green tea:
Green tea contains catechins, antioxidants that can slow cancer cell growth and promote cancer cell death. Men who drink green tea can reduce the risk of developing prostate cancer by as much as 70 percent compared to men who don’t drink green tea.
6. Eat omega-3 rich foods:
Omega- 3 fats fight inflammation, a process that destroys the body’s natural antioxidants and weakens the immune system, making the body more vulnerable to disease. Omega-3 is found in certain fish like mackerel, salmon and sardine.
7. Choose safe supplements:
Supplements that contain lycopene, saw palmetto, sitosterol, stinging nettle may benefit the prostate.
Supplements such as Now Prostate Health contain clinical strength saw palmetto, beta-sitosterol and lycopene, which are targeted prostate supportive nutrients, while Now Prostate Support contains standardized saw palmetto, stinging nettle & lycopene.
There are also other supplements that may be beneficial to your prostate health. Discuss with your Doctor or Pharmacist about the supplement that would be most beneficial to you.
8. Stay hydrated:
Drinking 2 litres of water every day is essential for prostate health.
10. Keep a healthy weight:
Being overweight or obese is associated with a higher risk of prostate cancer, lower long-term survival rate, and more aggressive forms of the disease.
11. Exercise regularly:
Exercise does not only help slow the spread of prostate cancer, but also has a preventive effect on prostatitis, BPH, and inflammation. You can engage in walking, jogging or even bicycling. Remember, exercise does not have to be boring. You can vary your routine and invite your friends to participate.
12. Manage stress:
Although stress may not directly cause cancer, long-term stress can weaken the immune system, alter your hormonal balance, and make you more susceptible to disease.
13. Maintain a healthy sex life:
Sexual activity appears to be healthy for your prostate.
14. Quit smoking:
At least 70 chemicals in tobacco are known to cause cancer by damaging your DNA. Smokeless tobacco may seem safer, but it can also cause cancer. Even light smoking raises your risk, so consult a Health Care Professional about ways to quit.
15. Avoid exposure to toxins:
Stay away from chemicals and other substances that can increase the risk of developing cancer, such as asbestos, formaldehyde, engine exhaust, etc.
16. Talk to your Doctor or Pharmacist:
Ask a Health Care Professional about your risk for developing prostate cancer, BPH and prostatitis. Find out what medical screening you should have as you age, your family history of cancer, and dietary recommendations. Also inform your Doctor if you have symptoms such as discomfort anywhere in your pelvic or rectal area, difficulty urinating, or, blood in your urine or semen.
Stay healthy, stay happy. Hope this article helps.