Green tea’s power in protecting the prostate

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Green tea is a well-respected beverage in terms of its potential health benefits.  From possibly helping to block the formation of plaque linked to Alzheimer’s disease to keeping blood sugar stable in people with diabetes, green tea has been associated with several health conditions in preventing or protecting against side effects or development of diseases. 

Green tea has also been associated with protecting the prostate gland.  Numerous studies over the years have shown a fairly strong correlation between men who regularly drink green tea in benefitting prostate health.  A couple of ways in which green tea demonstrates these benefits has to do with prostate cancer and benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH).

Why green tea?

Green tea (Camillia sinesis) is a potent antioxidant and an important tool in the search for prostate health.  Green tea’s medicinal powers are attributed to catechins, powerful antioxidants that boast an array of health-promoting properties.  Catechins have been shown to destroy certain bacteria and viruses, enhance the immune system, and combat several forms of cancer, including prostate cancer.  Although there are several different kinds of catechins, the most powerful is epigallocatechin gallate, EGCG.

Green tea and prostate cancer

Prostate cancer is the second most common type of cancer in men and is predicted to result in an estimated 161,360 new cases in the United States in 2017.  Many studies of large populations of men have shown that men who consume green tea regularly are less likely to develop prostate cancer than men who do not drink the beverage.  Other studies have found that the risk of prostate cancer decreases proportionally as the amount, frequency, and duration of green tea consumption increases.

In terms of tea consumed, men who drank more than three cups of green tea daily showed a reduced risk of prostate cancer.  In a large study that evaluated the green tea drinking habits of 49,920 men aged 40-69 who were followed for at least 10 years, the researchers found that men who consumed five or more cups of green tea daily had a reduced risk of advanced prostate cancer when compared with men who drank less than one cup daily.

Why would green tea be a possible substance that may protect the prostate?  Here are suggestions from research over the years on the impact of green tea on possibly preventing prostate cancer:

·       Green tea appears to interfere with the activity of an enzyme called orthnithine decarboxylase, which plays a role in the beginning of prostate cancer. 

·       Green tea may slow the growth of prostate cancer cells.

·       Green tea encourages the repair of damaged DNA that might otherwise promote cancer growth

·       Green tea appears to inhibit the activity of an enzyme called COX-2, which accumulates in prostate cancer tissue and is involved in the prostate cancer process. 

·       Green tea stimulates the activity of certain immune system cells that fight tumors.

·       Green tea’s antioxidant properties can contributes to its ability to reduce levels of DHT (dihydrotestosterone), a hormone that raises a man’s risk of developing BPH and prostate cancer.

Green tea and BPH

Benign prostatic hyperplasia, more commonly known as an enlarged prostate gland, affects millions of American men.  It is estimated that approximately 50 percent of men between the ages of 50-60 have BPH and as men get older, the numbers rise with an estimated 90 percent of men older than 80 living with BPH.  When the prostate gland enlarges, it constricts the urethra and puts pressure on the bladder, leading to complications of urinary urgency, frequency, leakage, a weak urine stream and frequent nighttime urination disrupting sleep.  These symptoms can be very annoying for men to have to deal with and can over time, lead to complications of incontinence, damage to the bladder and kidneys, and increase the likelihood of urinary tract infections and bladder stones.

Green tea may be one way to help to either combat the symptoms of BPH or to prevent it to begin with.

The vast majority of research connecting green tea on protecting the prostate has been in conjunction with prostate cancer and not nearly as much on BPH.  Even though prostate cancer and BPH are unrelated and BPH does not increase a man’s risk for prostate cancer, consuming green tea may have some beneficial effects for BPH.

One study did how improved lower urological health with green tea consumption.  Men involved in the small study had known or suspected BPH and the men who supplemented with a 500 mg green and black tea blend showed improved urine flow, decreased inflammation, and improvements in quality of life in as little as 6 weeks. 

Takeaway message

Even though green tea has documented health benefits and is a good beverage for men to consume, it is not a replacement for eating a healthy diet composed of plenty of fruits and vegetables that also contain important antioxidants and phytochemicals that have been shown to play a role in prostate health.

Green tea is certainly a better, healthier beverage choice in comparison to sugary or alcoholic beverages and can be enjoyed by the majority of men each day.  At the is time, there is no set recommendation on the number of cups of green tea to consume daily but at least two or more each day would be advisable. 

A man’s health is orchestrated by his lifestyle and his genes so no one food or beverage will completely protect him from developing prostate issues.  But when a man regularly consumes green tea, eats a healthy diet, gets in regular exercise, does not smoking and has yearly physical checkups, he can feel assured he is doing his health a favor by practicing what it takes to protect his prostate to the best of his ability from possible future complications.