What You Need To Know About The Prostate And Its Diseases
The prostate gland needs to be monitored in every male. Problems range from benign enlargement to cancer, so frequent exams after forty are key. Following is a helpful article, plus a video by Dr. Oz as he describes what is entailed in a prostate exam (and performs an exam on television).
I have heard of prostate diseases for years but never thought much about it till a friend developed prostate problems.
His situation was enough to get me curious about prostate diseases.
First I learned that the prostate is a doughnut-shaped cluster of glands at the bottom of the bladder between the rectum and the base of the penis. It produces most of the fluid in semen.
I then learned that there are three main diseases of the prostrate: cancer, prostatitis and prostrate enlargement.
First let's talk about the ‘big one', cancer.
In the USA, prostate cancer is the second leading cause of death for men after lung cancer.
African-American men are more than twice as likely to get the disease as any other ethnic group in the world. No one knows why this is so.
Prostate cancer is primarily a disease of aging. About 80 percent of all cases occur in men over sixty-five. However, the rate of prostate cancer is rapidly rising in all men, even those under fifty.
Generally, the younger a man is when he is diagnosed with prostate cancer, the worse his prognosis. Its increase among younger men points to the role of diet and exposure to environmental toxins in the development of the disease.
Prostatitis (prostate inflammation) is common in men of all ages. The usual cause is infectious bacteria that invade the prostate from another area of the body. These can be either acute or chronic infections.
Acute infections come on suddenly and may include fever and chills, pain and burning on urination and ejaculation, frequent urge to urinate while passing only small amounts of urine and blood in the urine. Symptoms of chronic prostatitis are similar but usually milder than the acute infection.
Prostatitis usually responds well to home care and antibiotic treatment.
Prostate enlargement seems to be a natural process, often associated with aging, and not necessarily a disease, but the gradual enlargement of the prostate. In the USA it occurs in about half of all men over fifty.
The major symptom is the need to pass urine frequently, perhaps with pain or burning feelings.
As prostate enlargement is often not a serious problem (though it depends on the case), let's talk about the other two prostate diseases.
Prostate cancer is usually a slow growing cancer, often with no symptoms until it reaches its advanced stages.
Symptoms include: pain or a burning sensation during urination, frequent urination, a decrease in the size and force of urine flow, an inability to urinate, blood in the urine, and lower back discomfort. However, these symptoms may be caused by benign enlargement or prostatitis. To get an accurate reading of the condition professional evaluation is of course recommended.
For treatment, testing is important. This may include a rectal exam (which can be rather painful) and/or a blood test. Ultrasound scanning is one of a number of other tests.
Dr. Oz performs a prostate exam in this video:
Unfortunately, prostate cancer can be difficult to diagnose in its early stages. Many cases are diagnosed only after the cancer has spread outside the gland.
Some of the treatment options for prostate cancer include:
- Experimental therapies such as cryoablation (freezing of cancer cells) and laser surgery are sometimes used.
- If the cancer has spread into the capsule of the gland, the standard approach is some form of radiation therapy. Try to avoid this, as it leaves men impotent 50 percent of the time.
- Removal of the gland may be recommended but consider that about 50 percent of men who have this done, even with the new “nerve sparing” techniques, become impotent. Watchful waiting, with nutritional support and lifestyle change, is becoming the preferred approach if the cancer is in the early stages.
- Many consider prostate cancer to be one of the most over treated diseases in America. Physicians in Europe have long used a conservative nutritional approach with good results.
- Research has shown that soybeans and soy products, such as tofu, soy flour and soymilk, have cancer-fighting powers due to the presence of a protein called genistein. It appears to be particularly effective against prostate cancer, but also works against breast cancer in women and colon cancer in both sexes.
Prostrate cancer prevention often includes a whole-foods diet, which was intriguing to me. Some suggestions include:
- Eat whole grains, raw nuts and seeds, and brown rice. Also broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage and cauliflower and carrots, pumpkin, squash and yams. This type of diet is important for both prevention and healing.
- Also include apples, fresh cantaloupe, all kinds of berries, Brazil nuts, cherries, grapes, legumes (including chickpeas, lentils and red beans) and plums.
- Try drinking freshly made vegetable and fruit juices daily.
- Include foods high in zinc, such as whole grain cereals or brewer's yeast.
- Use cold-pressed organic oils such as sesame, safflower or olive oil for essential fatty acids.
- Eliminate red meat, alcohol and caffeine.
- Strictly avoid: junk foods and refined foods. Instead of salt, use a kelp or potassium substitute. A little blackstrap molasses or pure maple syrup is a good, natural sweetener. Use whole wheat or rye instead of white flour.
These are good suggestions, but always seek counsel and alternative opinions before deciding which treatments or diets to use.
For prostatitis treatment, I found two general categories, one being home treatment, and then other treatments, generally.
For home treatment some recommendations are:
- Drink 8 to 12 glasses of fluid daily. Extra fluids help flush the urinary tract clean.
- Eliminate all alcohol and caffeine from your diet.
- Keep stress under control.
- Hot baths help soothe pain and reduce stress Aspirin or ibuprofen may help ease painful urinary symptoms
- Certain herbal teas may help.
- There are various types of hydrotherapy that a professional can advise you about.
- Eat 1 to 4 ounces of raw pumpkin seeds every day. They are rich in zinc. Alternatively, take pumpkinseed oil in capsule form.
- Get regular exercise. Do not ride a bicycle which may put pressure on the prostate.
Other treatment options include:
- Treatment with antibiotics and analgesics may be necessary.
- However, long-term use of antibiotics can lead to bacterial resistance, which necessitates more potent drugs, more expense, and more medical complications.
So “do it yourself” seems promising here, but of course one should always seek professional medical advice.
I would summarise what I researched that, as with any major disease an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
Try to keep a healthy lifestyle, do things that seem useful and rewarding to you and don't be slow about getting medical checkups if you have any sense that something in your body may not be up to par.