Women, remind men to love their prostate

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Women, remind men to love their prostate

It’s February and love is in the air.  This Valentine’s Day, women can play the role of cupid by reminding men to take care of their prostate.  Women who love all the men in their lives – husband, grandfather, father, brother, son - are a tremendous part of the solution in getting their men to pay attention to this part of their body.  Reminding them it’s “time to show it some love” is the best preventative medicine leading to a healthy prostate. 

Women are uniquely tuned in to their bodily changes. From puberty to pregnancy, childbirth to menopause, incredible changes occur within their body making them exceptional at recognizing the importance of taking care of themselves.   This self-awareness can spill over into helping men show their prostate love by making healthy lifestyle changes.

Unfortunately, men may not think much about their prostate until they have problems with it.  But why wait until something goes wrong?  This walnut-sized gland located between the bladder and the penis has the important job of producing the fluid that together with sperm cells from the testicles and fluids from other glands makes up semen. 

The earlier in life a man does think about it, the greater the likelihood of avoiding potential issues in the future.  All men can and should take preventative steps to keep their prostate in tip top shape regardless if they have a family history of prostate cancer or not.  

According to the American Cancer Society, about 164,690 new cases of prostate cancer will be diagnosed in 2018.  From that statistic, it is estimated around 29,430 men will die from the disease. Over the course of a lifetime, about 1 man in 7 will be diagnosed with prostate cancer.

Here are 7 body positive changes women can encourage men in achieving improving their chances of a healthy, cancer free prostate:

1.      Maintain a healthy body weight and exercise regularly

Men should reach a healthy body weight for their height paying special attention to reducing central abdominal obesity or belly fat.  Working out with them encouraging men to keep a consistent, regular exercise program will go a long way in preventing abdominal weight gain and achieving a healthy body weight.    

2.     Eat more fruits and vegetables

Men should consume at a minimum 5 servings of fruits and vegetables each day.  Include plenty of brightly colored produce providing important nutrients for the prostate.  Choose from tomatoes loaded with the phytochemical lycopene along with pink grapefruit, watermelons, and papaya also containing this healthy compound for prostates.  Cruciferous vegetables are always a good choice for preventing all cancers – stock up on broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, Bok choy, and kale.

3.      Don’t smoke

The role of smoking appears to increase the risk of prostate cancer by affecting circulating hormone levels or through exposure to carcinogens.  Breaking a smoking habit is not easy.  Women should have a frank discussion with their man who smokes, reminding them of the health ramifications and offer support to seek help in quitting  reminding and showing them how much they care.

4.     Choose foods rich in selenium

The mineral selenium has been found in studies to have a role in preventing prostate cancer.  Include more selenium rich foods such as wheat germ, tuna, herring, beef liver, eggs, sunflower and sesame seeds, cashews, mushrooms, garlic, and onions. 

5.     Know family history for prostate cancer

Men need to know their family medical history, especially so when it comes to prostate cancer.  Men with any first degree relatives (father or brother) who have had prostate issues or prostate cancer are at a greater risk.  Men with a brother who had prostate cancer have twice as high a risk of being diagnosed compared to other men or a 30% risk of being diagnosed before age 75 compared with about 13% among men with no family history.    Men with both a brother and father with prostate cancer have about 3 times the risk as the general population or a 48% chance of getting any type of prostate cancer compared to about 13% among other men. 

Women can remind men with a family history of prostate cancer to inform their primary care physician. 

6.     PSA blood test and digital rectal exam

Women know the importance of regular screening tests from mammograms to pap smears having few qualms seeking medical help when necessary. Teach men to do the same.  Make sure they are getting the standard tests for checking the health of their prostate.  These tests include the prostate specific antigen (PSA) and digital rectal exam.  A man should consult with his doctor as to when these tests should begin but they should be done annually once they are started. 

7.  Keep stress to a minimum

Men may not be the best in dealing with stress.  They may try to hide or refuse to talk about it or deal with it by overeating, smoking or drinking too much.  Women can help by recognizing when their man is feeling the pressures of life. Be understanding and be there for them when they do want to talk.  Keep in mind a body under stress deals with it by raising levels of certain hormones, including adrenaline and cortisol.  Unfortunately when stress is chronic, cortisol levels remain high which in turn elevate inflammation.  For men, stress can worsen urinary tract symptoms associated with benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), such as urinary urgency, painful urination, dribbling, and urinary frequency.

Help men prevent stress from taking total control by incorporating stress-reduction techniques.  Introduce them to yoga, tai chi, deep breathing, meditation, guided visualization, and exercise which all can be effective at alleviating stress.