In honour of all the special men in our lives, let’s learn a little more about the prostate, signs and symptoms of illness and strategies to keep the prostate gland as healthy as possible.
The prostate is a walnut sized gland located between the bladder and the penis. It secretes a fluid during ejaculation that is excreted with sperm. This fluid helps to nourish sperm and is excreted as part of semen.
There are several conditions that can affect the prostate:
Prostatitis: Inflammation of the prostate. This can be caused by an infection and can be treated with antibiotics.
Benign prostatichyperplasia (BPH) is an enlarged prostate gland. Since the prostate gland surrounds the urethra (the tube that carries urine from the bladder out of the body), enlargement of the prostate can squeeze or partly block the urethra. This often causes problems with urinating. Over half of all men over 75 years old have an enlarged prostate. Symptoms of BPH can include the following:
- Trouble getting a urine stream started and then trouble getting the stream to stop (dribbling).
- Frequently feeling the urge to urinate. This feeling may even wake you up at night.
- A weak urine stream.
- A sense that your bladder is not completely empty even after you urinate.
Prostate cancer can present with a variety of urinary symptoms including:
- Trouble urinating
- Decreased force in the stream of urine
- Blood in the semen
- Blood in the urine
- Loss of bladder control
- Discomfort or swelling in the pelvic area
- Bone pain
- Erectile dysfunction
- Painful ejaculation
There are several risk factors to consider with Prostate Cancer.
Older men have an increased risk and this risk increases with age. African American men have a greater risk of prostate cancer than do men of other races. In these men, prostate cancer is also more likely to be aggressive or advanced. If there is a family history of prostate or breast cancer, the chances of developing prostate cancer increases. Also, if you have a family history of genes that increase the risk of breast cancer (BRCA1 or BRCA2) or a very strong family history of breast cancer, your risk of prostate cancer may be higher. Obese men diagnosed with prostate cancer may be more likely to have advanced disease that’s more difficult to treat. Lastly, men using testosterone therapy are also at an increased risk.
There are many things that can help prevent the development of Prostate Cancer.
- Eat a diet that is high in protein and good fats, avoiding trans-fat and processed foods.
- Incorporate Omega 3 fats, best found in fish. If you don’t like fish, consider a good quality Omega 3 supplement
- Focus on whole foods, nuts and seeds, fruits and vegetables.
- Include foods that are rich in lycopene (tomatoes, watermelon, guava, cruciferous vegetables), selenium (wheat germ, tuna, beef liver, kidney, eggs, sunflower and sesame seeds, cashews, mushrooms, garlic and onions) and zinc (sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds) as these nutrients have been shown to have a protective effect on the prostate.
- Obesity increases your risk of prostate cancer so if you are overweight, work on becoming leaner.
- Too much fat, especially in the middle of your body, is linked to an increased risk of prostate cancer.
Know your family history
- Having a brother or father with prostate cancer doubles your risk
- Prostate cancer patients who smoke are more likely to have a recurrence of the disease. Smokers are also more likely to have an aggressive form of prostate cancer as well. If you are a smoker, it is not too late to quit! Studies show that prostate cancer patients who quit smoking for more than 10 years had the same mortality risk as those who never smoked (when compared to current smokers)
Get a PSA blood test and digital rectal exam annually, beginning at age 50. Men at high risk, such as African American men or men with a strong family history of prostate cancer should begin testing at age 45.