How a man’s weight affects risk of BPH 

 Portrait of a plus size man in red shirt and glasses looking back at camera, isolated on pink background

How a man’s weight affects risk of BPH 

Up to one-third of all men in the U.S. will experience benign prostatic hyperplasia or BPH by the time they reach age 60. While it is common for BPH to increase as a man ages, another important risk factor for enlargement of the prostate, is a man’s weight. As weight gain creeps up, so does the size of a man’s prostate.

Benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) is an enlargement of the prostate gland. This gland about the size of a small apricot is what produces fluid in semen and which surrounds the urethra that carries urine from the bladder to the penis.  With age, it has a tendency to grow putting a squeeze on the flow of urine along with other symptoms.  But research has also shown that besides age, overweight and obese men are more likely to develop BPH than men in a normal weight range.

When men carry excess weight, especially on their hips or waist, this can play a role in increasing the risk of BPH.  Men can determine if they are carrying excess weight by calculating their body mass index (BMI), a measure of their weight in relation to their height. Here is how to calculate BMI:

·      Step 1 – Multiply weight in pounds by 703

·      Step 2 – Multiply height in inches by itself

·      Step 3 – Divide the result in step 1 by the result in step 2

Here is an example of doing the math using a man who weighs 215 pounds and is 5 feet, 10 inches tall or 70 inches:

Step 1 – 215 x 703 = 151,145

Step 2 – 70 x 70 = 4,900

Step 3 – 151,145 divided by 4,900 = 30.8 or 31 BMI (obese)

Here are the weight categories for BMI:

Less than 18.5 – underweight

18.5 to 24.9 – normal weight

25 to 29.9 – overweight

30 or higher – obese

There is also an online BMI calculator, such as the one provided by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. 

Helping men reach a healthier body weight

There is no magic solution for losing excess body weight.  But there are many tips on beginning the journey of losing pounds to reach a healthier body weight reducing a man’s risk of developing BPH and other health conditions.

Reducing waist size is imperative to reducing risk of chronic health conditions.  It won’t happen overnight but slow, steady progress can help whittle waist weight gain lessening the likelihood of BPH.  Here are smart, sustainable ideas putting men on the right path toward successful weight loss:

·      Eat regular nutritious meals – Avoid skipping meals and keep mealtimes as consistent as possible.  This reduces hunger pangs causing you to crave high-calorie, convenience foods such as chips, sweets, or other foods and beverages high in fat, sugar, and calories.  Going no more than 4 hours without eating, helps stabilize blood sugars and keeps metabolism running smoothly. Also, consume between 25-30 grams of protein and at least 10 grams of fiber at each meal. Both protein and fiber slow down digestion, keeping hunger at bay.  Protein also helps men maintain muscle mass while pounds come off.

·      Keep portion sizes in check – Even when making healthy choices, calories can add up. A good place to start on knowing proper portion sizes is to plan meals using the MyPlate method - half of the plate filled with vegetables, one-fourth with a lean protein and the other one-fourth filled with a healthy starch or whole grain.

·      Replace sugary beverages – Drink water or unsweetened tea instead of soda, sports drinks, energy drinks, lemonade, or any other drink with sugar in it.

·      Limit alcohol intake – It’s not necessarily that beer or any other beverage containing alcohol can turn a trim waistline into a beer belly. Any kind of calories – whether from alcohol, sugary beverage, or oversized portions of food – can increase belly fat.  However, alcohol intake is associated with bigger waists, because when you drink alcohol, the liver burns alcohol instead of fat. Also, a typical beer has 150 calories and if a man downs several in one sitting, that’s a serious calorie overload.  And don’t forget calories from food men use to wash down with alcohol – pizza, wings, and other fried foods.  It all adds up very quickly.

·      Focus on 30 grams of fiber daily – Choose more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, and beans.  These foods are full of fiber taking longer to digest giving a feeling of fullness.  Aim to eat at least 2 fruits and 2 vegetables, a small handful of nuts and use beans in at least one meal each day.

·      Exercise regularly – Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise each week of about 30 minutes 5 days a week.  The greater the frequency, duration and intensity of physical activity enhances weight loss particularly in the abdominal area. 

By putting these ideas into practice, most men should find themselves reaching a healthier body weight without losing muscle mass and without going on fad diets.