It’s the fact that the vast majority of women are open and comfortable when discussing intimate details of their monthly cycle with other women. Men are more likely to swallow crushed glass than communicate with anyone about what is happening to them as they age, for changes like baldness, loss of muscle mass, and prostate health and genital changes. Unlike women, who learn about sexual maturity, physiology, and cleanliness from their mothers and female relatives, men rarely get advice from their fathers on caring for and maintaining their bodies, including these age-related alterations specific to men.
But, there is a risk that one of your loved ones (spouse, father, or sibling) will experience prostate alterations at some point in their life.
WHAT IS THE PROSTATE?
Few people are vocal about prostate health. A prostate is a tiny gland located directly below the bladder. It encircles the urethra, the tube that connects the bladder with the penis. This gland is fundamental for reproduction, as it produces the majority of a man’s seminal fluid.
CHANGES RELATED TO AGING PROSTATE
Specific changes in the body are unavoidable as we age. Unlike women, males do not experience a significant, fast decline in fertility as they age (over many months, such as menopause). Instead, changes occur gradually during what some refer to as andropause. There are three prostate health problems that men may experience as they age.
1. PROSTATE ENLARGEMENT.
Starting around age 25, the adult gland begins to enlarge slowly from a walnut approximately the size of a lemon. The condition is called benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). By the age of 60, 50% of men will exhibit evidence of BPH; by the age of 85, 90% of men will show signs of the disease. There is no known cause of this enlargement as yet, but it is thought, according to research, that some male hormones, such as dihydrotestosterone, operate more powerfully on the gland later in life.
And at the age of 50, many men start experiencing discomfort from this enlargement. They may need to go to the toilet more frequently, especially at night, and find it difficult to empty the bladder. It is mainly because an enlarged prostate may press on the urethra, making urination difficult. While BPH does not raise your risk of prostate cancer or sexual dysfunction, it can impair your quality of life by creating bothersome and embarrassing urinating issues. Such symptoms include:
- Infection of the urinary tract
- Weak urine flow
- Urination frequently, especially at night
- Reduced overall renal function.
A recent poll by the European Association of Urology (EAU) reveals disturbingly little awareness of prostate health among men over 50, even though 40% of men over 60 have an enlarged prostate.
In 2010, up to 14 million men in the US experienced symptoms of BPH.
Prostatitis is a condition that causes the prostate to swell, become painful, or become inflamed. It’s either due to bacterial infection or due to unknown causes in chronic cases. Although some of the symptoms are similar to an enlarged prostate, it is distinct from that condition. Even though men of any age can acquire prostatitis, older men are more prone than younger men to be affected by it. If anyone is 50 and has BPH, they are at a higher risk of having this disease. Symptoms depend upon the cause, and they may include;
- Pain in the lower abdomen, lower back, or rectum
- Difficulty urinating
- Pain with urinating
- Cloudy or pus-like urine
Other symptoms include groin, pelvic, or genital discomfort and occasionally flu-like symptoms. Prostatitis comes in a variety of forms. Bacterial prostatitis is an illness caused by bacteria and is treatable with medicines. Persistent prostatitis, or chronic pelvic pain syndrome, is another possibility. Although doctors are unsure what causes this illness, it might be triggered by an accident, nerve damage, or stress.
It’s one of the most common urological problems in the USA, resulting in almost 2 million outpatient visits every year.
3. PROSTATE CANCER
The biggest prostate health concern has to be prostate cancer. Prostate cancer is the most prevalent kind and second most common after skin cancer among males in the United States. According to the National Cancer Institute (NCI), over 3 million men live with prostate cancer in the United States.
248,530 cases of prostate cancer were discovered in 2021.
According to a 2013 Harvard research, around 70% of prostate tumors are low risk, meaning the cancer is too tiny and developing too slowly to become life-threatening.
WHAT CAUSES PROSTATE CANCER?
Chances of having this cancer increase with the following risk factors, according to Cancer.net
- Age. Men of age 50 and older run a greater risk.
- Race. Prostate cancer affects black men and other males of African descent more than other races. Hispanic and Native American men to follow it. Asian American men have the lowest rates of prostate cancer. White men had a lower risk of distant (5%) and unknown stage (6%) prostate cancer. It’s because of better socioeconomic status and ability to go for early diagnosis for prostate health-related changes.
- Family history: The previous record of a first-degree relative (father or brother) who has had prostate cancer makes up about 20% of all cancers.
- Hereditary Mutations. Some mutations in the BRCA1 or BRCA 2 genes can also increase the risk of this type of cancer, as also proven by studies.
- Obesity. Obesity is a major dietary/lifestyle risk factor. Obese men have a higher risk of an aggressive form of this cancer, according to research.
What are the Signs of Prostate Cancer?
Prostate cancer does not always present with symptoms in its early stages or at any age. Men diagnosed with may have the following symptoms:
- Frequent and painful urination
- Blood in pee or semen
- Pain in the lower back, upper thighs, hips, or chest
- Feelings of weakness or numbness in the legs or feet
- Unexplained weight loss
- Feeling tired, short of breath, or dizzy
- A rapid heartbeat
- Pale skin.
Many of these symptoms are comparable to other diseases, such as an enlarged prostate or prostatitis, so it’s essential to visit your doctor if you notice any changes.
HOW TO SCREEN FOR PROSTATE CANCER?
To look into age-related changes in men’s health like women, all men should discuss prostate screening with their doctor by age 50.
It is also recommended by the American Cancer Society (ACS) that high-risk males have this conversation at the age of 45. Further examination and procedures include;
DIGITAL RECTAL EXAM.
Digital rectal examinations (DRE) are done after a thorough physical examination and evaluation of medical history. A DRE is the most frequent test used by clinicians to determine the health of the prostate, but it does not detect cancer. This examination only helps the physician determine the size and detect any hard regions that may be cancerous. DRE has no risks.
PROSTATE-SPECIFIC ANTIGEN SCREENING (PSA).
Additionally, the doctor may do a blood test to determine the amount of PSA. PSA is a protein produced by the cells in your prostate. While elevated PSA values may suggest prostate cancer, they might be caused by inflammation, infection, trauma, or senile processes (aging). This makes this test non-specific since only 25% of men with elevated PSA have cancer.
|Urine Analysis||A urine test to rule out the cause of urgency|
|MRI||MRI is a non-invasive approach to prostate cancer detection among people with higher risk. It can detect clinically significant illnesses considerably better than biopsy.|
|BPH Symptom Score Index||A seven-question BPH Symptom Score Index survey to evaluate the severity of your symptoms of BPH|
|Cystoscopy||To look into the bladder for urinary changes|
|Biopsy ( Cancerous level)||It is done to diagnose or rule out prostate cancer if there are indications of malignancy.|
HOW TO PREVENT PROSTATE CANCER? HOW TO IMPROVE PROSTATE HEALTH?
When men are diagnosed with prostate cancer, BPH, or prostatitis, they instantly want to know what they can do. While it is preferable to maintain good prostate health by living a healthy lifestyle, there are numerous natural methods to improve prostate health even if he already has symptoms or a diagnosis. Certain lifestyle changes and treatments can be suggested to men in your life to reduce the symptoms and lead to reduced risk factors.
Stress can increase the symptoms of difficulty in urinary and lower urinary tract symptoms (LUTS) and causes more risk of cancers in later life. It also accelerates aging. So it is essential to reduce stress. Men encounter tremendous social pressure and are hardly outspoken about their feelings and challenges, support. Being a good partner, the best way is to empathize and sympathize.
What other effects does stress have on a body? How to deal with it? Readout here.
WATCH OUT WEIGHT & ENGAGE IN PHYSICAL ACTIVITY
Carrying excess weight puts a strain on your body and its capacity to maintain optimal health, particularly when it comes to cancer prevention. There is evidence to suggest that having abdominal obesity increases the risk of developing prostate cancer.
It has been proven by research done in 2015 that increased physical exercise can reduce BPH symptoms. Males who participated in greater physical activity had a lower risk of developing BPH. Even low- to moderate-intensity physical exercise, such as regular walking at a moderate speed, benefits. Physical activity can also reduce stress levels and male urinary tract symptoms LUTS. According to research, regular exercise and physical activity benefits health and prostate cancer. Men who walk for 1 to 3 hours per week had an 85% reduced risk of aggressive prostate cancer.
Find out what exercises are beneficial to tailor-make your workout plan. Check out this article here.
It is a particular type of exercise specially designed for strengthening the pelvic floor muscle. Despite common assumptions, they are not just for postpartum women. Kegel exercises are particularly beneficial for men who exhibit symptoms of BPH and even after chemotherapy sessions. To do a Kegal, men must clench the muscles that ordinarily hold back their urine. Squeeze briefly, then release. Three sets of 10 Kegels each day should help.
MAINTAIN A DIET GOOD FOR PROSTATE HEALTH
Rather than concentrating just on specific foods, dietitians, doctors, and researchers advocate for a healthy eating pattern as a whole. According to Harvard Health, certain eating habits may help you prevent early aging and cancers in later life.
- Reduce Fats. Healthy fats such as omega-3 fatty acids from nuts, seeds, and fish should be prioritized. A 2014 study has suggested an association between animal fats and an increased risk of prostate cancer. So, consume fewer or avoid trans and saturated fats when possible.
- Add up Green Tea and Soya. In a clinical conducted in 2021, it has been indicated that green tea may assist men who are at high risk for prostate cancer lessen their chances of developing the disease. An investigation by the National Cancer Institute (NCI) has shown a connection between soy intake and lower levels of PSA.
- More Veggies. Add leafy greens to the diet to reap benefits. It has been demonstrated in certain studies that the antioxidant lycopene, which is abundant in cooked or processed tomatoes, can help to inhibit the growth of prostate cancer cell proliferation. Cruciferous vegetables (for example, broccoli and cauliflower) contain a chemical known as sulforaphane, which may have cancer-fighting properties. Another study conducted on vegetables revealed that they are the primary source of isothiocyanate, and was linked to a lower risk of prostate cancer. Vitamin A and carotene found in orangish veggies like carrots are linked with a reduced risk of cancers.
- Fruits. They contain abundant amounts of antioxidants that are helpful to fight against cancerous cells and better health. The NCI claims pomegranate juice and its bioactive components may help slow prostate cancer cell growth.
- Pumpkin Seeds. Pumpkin seeds are good sources of zinc. According to research published in the Indian Journal of Urology, the mineral is vital for prostate health. The symptoms of benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) may be improved by using pumpkin seed oil or pumpkin seeds according to research done in 2014. The American Heart Association suggests consuming a quarter cup of pumpkin seeds daily as part of a balanced diet, which is roughly 30 g.
- Antioxidant-rich foods. Foods containing resveratrol such as grapes are found to be very beneficial to prostate health by research done in 2019. Vitamin C when taken above the recommended daily allowance (more than 500 mg Vitamin C ) was found to be beneficial for the prostate in a recent study.
- Flaxseeds. Flax seeds include lignans, a class of minerals with potent antioxidants. A low-fat diet with 30 grams of flax seeds per day lowered levels of a prostate cancer marker in 15 men, suggesting a lower risk of prostate cancer as mentioned by a study.
Antioxidants are known for their anti-inflammatory benefits; learn about how that works here and consume more antioxidant-rich foods here.
Prostate problems can cause difficulty in urination. We recommend drinking enough water to keep the urinary system functioning properly to keep everything moving smoothly and the passageways open. Drinking six to eight glasses of water (or 1.5 to 2 liters) per day is recommended by doctors for prostate health. But it is to be kept in mind that the water intake must be limited at night before bed to avoid frequent bathroom visits.
STOP DRINKING ALCOHOL AND QUIT SMOKING
Quitting smoking can have various positive effects on your partner’s health, including decreasing cancer risk. When compared to current smokers, prostate cancer patients who quit smoking for more than ten years had the same mortality risk as individuals who had never smoked in their life. Support your man to quit smoking with these tips here and discover the benefits timeline after leaving here.
Alcohol takes a toll on your body, too; consume in moderation if need be; read this researched content to know how to define moderation and how to quit.
POUR MORE CAFFEINE
In a review of clinical research published in 2014, it was shown that drinking 4 to 5 cups of coffee every day could reduce your risk of developing deadly or high-grade prostate cancer. According to the Oxford general of Oncology, no matter how many cups your partner drinks, every 3 cups reduces the chance of dying from prostate cancer by 11%. It is recommended that caffeine consumption be less than 400 mg each day ( equal to four cups of freshly brewed coffee) for better prostate health and avoid side effects of coffee (trouble sleeping, increased heart rate, etc.)
SUPPLEMENT TO SUPPORT PROSTATE HEALTH
- Many supplements claim to promote prostate health or lessen symptoms linked with its issues. Taking 160 mg saw palmetto extract 4 times per day for 12 weeks improved prostate symptom ratings, urine flow rate, and quality of life scores in 165 BPH males.
- Pumpkin seed oil may help treat BPH and chronic nonbacterial prostatitis by decreasing inflammation.
- Several studies have linked low vitamin D levels to an increased risk of prostate cancer. ( 1 ) ( 2 ) ( 3 ). Still, the evidence on vitamin D supplementation and prostate cancer is mixed. One study revealed an increased risk of prostate cancer in people with high vitamin D levels. The Institute of Medicine (IOM) set the recommended daily allowance for vitamin D at 600 IU. (800 IU in those age 71 and older) for better prostate health. While taking vitamin D supplements may help men who are vitamin D deficient or have low levels may help prostate health, large dosages are not presently suggested.
REGULARLY SCREEN FROM THE AGE OF 40S (or before if symptoms surface earlier)
Men do not need to get screened until they reach the age of 40. But men who have difficulty urinating before their 40s and have other symptoms should consult their doctor about prostate health. Due to its position inside the pelvis, men cannot self-examine their prostate. If a man has no cancer indications after the initial screening, he may not require another screening for two years. Prostate health screenings will, after that, only be required every other year as a preventative precaution. Regular checks and screening should be performed on your loved one, especially if cancer has been diagnosed in other members of the family.
Following these prostate health tips will significantly improve a man’s prostate health, as we all know that better health does not require a prescription. This will assist men’s emotional and physical wellness too. Some variables are out of your hands, but you can manage the elements that reduce the risks and help the men you know to prime with time.