What every urologist wants men to know about keeping their prostate healthy

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What every urologist wants men to know about keeping their prostate healthy

Prostate health is a primary focus all urologists want men to achieve.  Yet prostate health is rarely on men’s health concerns radar.  Usually a man’s prostate quietly does its job without incident making it a part of the male anatomy few men pay attention to.  In addition, many men don’t want to talk about it – the topic of testing for prostate cancer can be very personal.  But “the talk” when it comes to prostate cancer, could be the one that saves a man’s life.

Each year more than 160,000 new cases of prostate cancer are diagnosed making it the second most common cancer in men other than skin cancer.  Almost 30,000 men are estimated to die from prostate cancer in 2018 according to the American Cancer Society.

This is why urologists want men to be informed of these numbers so they can keep ahead of the game in reducing their overall lifetime risk of developing the disease.  When men adopt the following practices into their everyday lifestyle, they help minimize the chance they will ever hear the words, “You have prostate cancer.”

·      Get screened

Screenings include a digital rectal exam and a prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood test.  If the PSA test indicates an above-normal result, then a urologist will decide from there on the next steps to take.  All men should discuss with their urologist when to begin screenings based on their risk factors for possibly developing prostate cancer. 

·      Eat a variety of anti-oxidant rich foods

We truly are what we eat and when men make healthy food choices from day to day his prostate gland reaps the benefits.  There have been numerous studies clearly showing a strong association of eating anti-oxidant rich foods that promote prostate health – tomatoes, pomegranates, legumes, broccoli, green tea, fatty fish, all berries, and watermelon. Eating these foods will help nourish the prostate keeping it functioning at its optimal best.

Vitamin C is another critical nutrient men should pay attention to.  Foods brimming with this nutrient include bell peppers, broccoli, Brussel sprouts, snow peas, cauliflower, kale, and tomatoes. 

Zinc is a mineral not to overlook for men’s prostate health.  Prostate cells have the highest concentration of zinc than anywhere else in the body.  Choose zinc-rich foods which include oysters, crab, baked beans, duck, lamb, and lean beef.

Men should aim for at least five servings of fruits and vegetables every day looking for produce with deep, bright colors indicating a high amount of anti-oxidants.

·      Avoid overconsuming calories to maintain a healthy body weight

Everything in moderation has always been the mantra when it comes to eating.  And it is so true for men in terms of prostate health.  Overeating will only lead to excessive weight gain which is not good for the prostate.  The excess weight a man carries means an excess production of hormones that are known to be risk factors for a variety of cancers including prostate cancer. 

It cannot be stressed enough for men to reach and maintain a healthy body weight, reduce belly fat and watch portion sizes of food eaten.  Avoid eating more calories than what you need which in turn can help avoid excess weight gain.

·      Get in an adequate amount of vitamin D

Studies have found that men with prostate cancer tend to have lower levels of vitamin D whereas men with healthy levels of vitamin D tend to have lower rates of death from prostate cancer and less aggressive cancers. 

It is not known at this time if taking a vitamin D supplement or getting more sun exposure can help to protect the prostate from cancer.   All men should discuss with their physician on whether they should be taking a supplement of vitamin D and what is a healthy amount of sun exposure.

·      Embrace exercise

Exercise appears to have a positive impact on prostate health.  Studies that have looked at a correlation between regular exercise and the prostate have found that men who are more physically active were less likely to suffer from BPH, prostatitis, and prostate cancer progression.

Men who participated in low- to moderate-intensity physical activity such as walking regularly at a moderate pace had good results in all three prostate conditions.  A well-rounded exercise program that includes a half-hour of physical activity on all or most days of the week delivers solid health benefits.  All men should talk with their physician before beginning an exercise program in order to develop a routine based on his health and fitness level. 

·      Increase frequency of ejaculation

What does sex have to do with prostate cancer and a man’s risk of developing it or not?  Maybe more than we think.  Studies have found that frequent ejaculation (either from sex or masturbation) may have a protective effect against developing prostate cancer

Researchers theorize that ejaculation appears to reduce prostate cancer risk possibly due to purging the prostate of carcinogens.  But many of the studies are observational meaning they only show an association but not causation. 

Research on the connection between ejaculation and prostate health continues.  Maybe someday doctors will be writing out prescriptions for more sex.  In the meantime, there is likely little harm in having sex more often and most men are up for the challenge to see for themselves if sex actually can protect them from prostate cancer