10 Facts About Your Prostate, Gentlemen

Men, we know it’s not something you like to talk about, but it’s time to get serious about your prostate health.

From “10 facts every man should know about his prostate” By Rebecca Wallersteiner

“1. What is the prostate?

Only men have a prostate. The role of the prostate is to make seminal fluid, which is mixed with sperm to make semen.

2. What does it look like?

It is a walnut-sized gland situated just below the bladder between the root of the penis and the anus.

In older men with prostate problems it may swell from the size of a walnut to that of a plum.

If the prostate grows too big, urine flow may be weaker.

3. How do I know if my prostate is healthy?

Urine flow is a good indicator of prostate problems. If your once proud stream of urine has dwindled to a feeble trickle, you’ll need to see your GP.

There are a variety of reasons for a change in the pressure of urine flow, such as a non-cancerous enlargement of the prostate, called benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) or prostatitis – inflammation or infection of the prostate.

Prostate cancer doesn’t always affect the urinary stream until the disease is advanced, so it isn’t a reliable indicator on its own.

Symptoms to look out for are getting up more at night to urinate, dribbling before or after urinating, and a weak urine flow.

Less common symptoms include pain in the testicles, problems getting an erection, pain when ejaculating, pain when passing urine and blood in the urine.

4. Is age a factor?

Prostate cancer usually affects men over 50 and approximately half of this age group also show signs of prostate enlargement. According to Cancer Research UK, the largest number of cases is diagnosed in those aged 70 to 74.

One in 25 men (3.8 per cent) will die from the disease and around 7 in 10 newly diagnosed prostate cancer patients now survive beyond five years. Prostatitis can affect men of any age.

5. What is a PSA test?

If your GP wants to rule out prostate cancer he will probably suggest that you have a PSA test. This is a blood test that measures the level of a protein called Prostate specific antigen (PSA). PSA is produced in the prostate gland and found in small amounts in the blood.

A raised PSA level can be a warning sign of the presence of prostate cancer. It can also indicate other problems that aren’t cancer – three out of four men with a raised PSA level will not have prostate cancer. However, the higher the PSA level, the greater the likelihood of a cancer being present.

6. Is there a genetic link?

Look at your family tree. Has your father, grandfather, uncle or brother had prostate cancer? If this is the case, then you have a greater risk of developing the disease.

It’s hoped that in the future genetic profiling will be developed in order to identify men with a high risk.

Tell your doctor if any family members have had the disease so you can be given regular blood tests to monitor your PSA.

7. Eat more

Try to eat six portions of brightly coloured fruit and vegetables a day. Include three portions of oily fish a week, such as salmon, herrings, mackerel or sardines, which are rich in vitamin D and essential fatty acids, omega-3 and omega-6.

There is evidence that selenium, a trace mineral, helps lower the risk of prostate cancer by combating cell damage. Selenium is found in broccoli, Brazil nuts, seafood, asparagus, brown rice and onions.

Selenium can also be taken in supplement form and works best when combined with vitamin E and zinc.

Mediterranean men have a lower prostate cancer rate and this is believed to be down to a diet rich in fruit and vegetables, garlic, olive oil, fish and tomatoes.

Tomatoes contain a bright red pigment called lycopene, a powerful carotenoid antioxidant, which helps to repair damaged cells.

According to an American study of 47,000 men over six years, those who had at least 10 servings a week of tomato-based foods were up to 45 per cent less likely to develop prostate cancer.

8. Eat less

There is also a clear link between obesity and cancer – putting on those extra cuddly pounds around your waist doubles your risk of dying of cancer.

Reduce your fat intake and replace saturated fats with monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats.

Saturated fats are found in found in meat, some margarines, crisps, chips, and many processed foods.

Lower salt intake and drink moderately. Avoid too much cured meat such as smoked dishes, or processed hams, as they may contain carcinogens, a substance that may promote or aggravate cancer.

9. Drink plenty of the right stuff

Japanese and Chinese men have very low levels of prostate cancer and green tea is thought to be one reason why. This is because it’s rich in polyphenols, which have antioxidant properties.

Alcohol and fizzy drinks are rich in sugar, which can pile on the pounds. Instead, you should try to drink six to eight glasses of water each day to help flush out the kidneys and keep the body hydrated.

10. Be active

Exercise helps to balance hormone levels, prevent obesity and boost the immune system. And it’s never too late – studies have shown that exercise is still beneficial for men who have been diagnosed with prostate cancer and are receiving treatment for it.

Scientists in Boston found that maintaining a healthy weight and diet helps cancer sufferers live longer. Results of the trial, involving over 900 men, showed that overweight men with prostate cancer doubled their risk of death in the five years after the study, compared to men who maintained a healthy weight.”

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