If you’re like most guys, chances are you don’t take time out to think about the health of your prostate. Many guys are too embarrassed to talk about it, even to a medical professional. However, understanding a little bit about the prostate itself—and also knowing what lifestyle changes you can make—is a good first step in learning how to avoid prostate enlargement or the development of prostate cancer.
Common Prostate Problems in Men
One of the reasons guys don’t give much thought to their prostates (unless something goes wrong!) is because, according to Healthline, it is so small; the prostate is a gland about the size of a walnut wrapped around the urethra of the penis. As men age, the cells of the prostate gland can reproduce and cause the gland to swell, which can cut off the urethra, the tube which drains the bladder. This can cause delayed or difficult urination, blood or pus in the urine, painful urination and increase the risk of urinary tract infections. This risk of prostate enlargement (also known as benign prostatic hypertrophy or BPH) is common in men over 50 and by the time a man reaches his 80’s, he has a 50 percent chance of developing an enlarged prostate.
Apart from BPH, prostate cancer is another major threat to the prostate health of men. According to the American Cancer Society, it is estimated that in 2016, there will be 180,890 new cases and 26,120 deaths from this disease. One in seven men will be diagnosed with this disease in his lifetime.
So what’s a guy to do?
Highlights of a Prostate-Healthy Lifestyle
According to Harvard Health, men who have a lower body mass index (BMI) are able to reduce their chances of getting an enlarged prostate by approximately half. Therefore, many of their recommendations to prevent/treat an enlarged prostate are as follows:
Regular exercise, including a combination of aerobic exercise, stretching exercises or yoga and muscle building can help prevent the prostate from getting too large.
General healthy lifestyle choices like avoiding sodium and sugary drinks (and drinking water instead), reducing red meat consumption in favor of fish and poultry and choosing to eat healthy fats and at least five servings of fruits and vegetables a day can help to reduce the BMI, and thus, reduce the chances of prostate enlargement.
The Everyday Health site notes specific foods, which are believed to support prostate health include: berries (due to their high levels of antioxidants and vitamin C), fatty fish like salmon and tuna (because they are a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids) and nuts (which provide high amounts of healthy fats and vitamin.)
Healthline also notes that, apart from exercise and making good dietary choices, men can also avoid certain medications (like antihistamines and decongestants) and also learn to manage their stress levels, which affect prostate health in the long term.
And the good news? According to an article in the Medical Daily Times, a new study called the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study, followed 32,000 men for 18 years and found that men who ejaculated at least 21 times a month reduced their risk of prostate cancer by 20 percent compared to men who only ejaculated 4-7 times a month. While it is not clear why this should influence your risk some researchers believe chemicals released during orgasm—namely oxytocin and DHEA—may have anti-cancer effects.
In short, prostate health can be a major issue for men, particularly after the age of 50. However, lifestyle changes that include exercise, good dietary choices and perhaps even more frequent sex can help reduce the chances of prostate enlargement or the development of prostate cancer.
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