Enlarged prostate: What every man over 50 should know

Losing weight, exercising regularly as well as eating more vegetables and fruits can go a long way in maintaining prostate health.

Most men shy away from dealing head-on with sensitive issues such as prostate health. While this is understandable, the state of one’s prostate can determine the quality of one’s life so being aware of how to keep your prostate healthy and seeking medical help when things go awry cannot be stressed enough.

Statistics show that eight out of every 10 men will eventually develop an enlarged prostate. This condition is also called benign (non-cancerous) prostatic hyperplasia or BPH. Age and family history are risk factors.

About 90% of men over the age of 85 will develop BPH and about 30% will find their symptoms bothersome. This translates to approximately 612 million cases of BPH that will occur globally by 2018, a clear indication of just how common the condition is.

According to a study on the prevalence of BPH in Malaysia, approximately 40% of men aged 50–59 have BPH, while 65.4% of men aged 70 and above will eventually develop the condition.

What exactly is the prostate?

The prostate is a small gland that is a part of the reproductive system. It’s about the shape and size of a walnut. The prostate rests below the bladder and in front of the rectum. It surrounds part of the urethra, the tube that carries urine from the bladder.

The prostate helps make semen, which carries sperm from the testicles when a man ejaculates.

As a man ages, the prostate can grow larger. When a man reaches the age of 40, the prostate gland might have increased from the size of a walnut to that of an apricot.

By the time he reaches 60, the prostate might be the size of a lemon. Because it surrounds part of the urethra, the enlarged prostate can squeeze the urethra, causing difficulty in urinating, frequency in urinating, and in many cases discomfort or pain as well.

Typically, these problems don’t occur in men until they are 50 or older. It can however occur in some men much earlier.

Don’t despair! Here are 7 ways to ensure a healthy prostate

• Lose weight – obesity is linked to not only BPH but prostatitis as well as prostate cancer. Don’t be surprised that when you lose weight, you could also lose some unpleasant symptoms associated with BPH.

• Exercise regularly – this ensures proper blood circulation, better muscle care and aids in the perpetual regeneration of healthier cells.

• Eat more fruits and vegetables – tomatoes, watermelon, pink grapefruit, guava and papaya contain lycopene, a powerful antioxidant. Cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, brussels sprouts, bok choy and kale are also good vegetable choices.

• Include more soy in your diet from sources such as tofu, soy nuts or soy flour or powders.

• Eat more selenium-rich foods such as wheat germ, tuna, herring and other seafood and shellfish, beef liver, kidney, eggs, sunflower and sesame seeds, cashews, mushrooms, garlic and onions. Selenium also reduces the risk of prostate cancer.

• Reduce stress – try breathing exercises or take a stroll in a park. Listening to music and making time to engage in any activity or hobby that you like, will help lessen the symptoms of BPH.

• Get a blood test and digital rectal examination annually, beginning at age 50. Men at high risk, such as African Americans or men with a strong family history of prostate cancer should begin testing at age 45.

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DISCLAIMER: The information in this article is not a substitute for professional medical advice. You are encouraged to confirm any information obtained here with other sources, and review all information with your physician. Please do not disregard professional medical advice or delay treatment because of something you have read here. FMT is not responsible and liable for any damage caused through information obtained here.