Prostate Gland - The prostate gland is responsible for the deaths of approximately 44,000 men in the United States every year. Every 3 minutes, another man is diagnosed with prostate cancer. Can you avoid being next?
Is Your Prostate Abnormal?
Over 50% of men aged fifty and over have an enlarged prostate gland, a condition known as Benign Prostatic Hypertrophy, or BPH. This percentage increases to 75% by the age of 60 and 90% by the age of 80.
Only about 50% of men with BPH have symptoms. Unfortunately, most of them won’t begin to occur until around the age of 50. Of these, 25% will have surgery to try to alleviate their symptoms.
Signs and Symptoms
BPH can often lead to a variety of miserable symptoms. These include:
Nocturia (continually awakening at night to urinate)
Incontinence, in which urination cannot be controlled
A full feeling in the bladder even after urinating
Weak urine stream
Urgency - the inability to "hold it"
A decrease in the force and magnitude of the flow of urine
Hesitancy (urinary difficulty)
Frequent infections of the urinary tract (which can damage the kidneys and lead to kidney failure)
The Medical Expenses of BPH
In the US, about 10% of men will, at some point, have some type of medical procedure performed because of their prostate. After the age of 65, prostate surgery is the second most common surgery performed on men. Yearly medical costs for managing BPH surpass 3 trillion (yes, that's trillion with a "T") dollars in the US alone!
The signs of an enlarged prostate are often the same as the signs and symptoms of prostate cancer; however, BPH is much more common. Prostatism (prostate enlargement) can be caused by prostate cancer; therefore, it is important to get a professional medical opinion to ensure a proper diagnosis. The physician may also need to rule out prostate infection and other possible causes of the patient's symptoms.
You Should be Tested
A rectal examination should be part of each annual physical checkup recommended for men beginning about age 40-50 years. The physician can feel the surface of the prostate through the wall of the bowel. Abnormal tissue developments can be investigated through further testing.
Researchers are testing new technologies and laboratory tests that could possibly improve the early detection rate of prostate cancer and other prostatic diseases.
One method is a blood test that measures concentrations of Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA), a protein produced in the prostate that may be elevated due to aging.
If the prostate is enlarged or infected, cancer may be present and additional testing must be done. PSA is the primary tool responsible for the increased incidence of prostate cancer detection.
Unfortunately, these tests are more invasive and can be very painful. One such test studies the bladder through the use of a cystoscope, a thin tube that is inserted into the urethra and down into the bladder.
The cystoscope allows your doctor to actually see the inside of your bladder. If a severe blockage is found to be caused by the prostate, a procedure called a transurethral resection of the prostate, or TURP, may be performed.
Commonly Prescribed Treatments
A TURP is an operation involving the partial removal of the prostate gland by passing a device through the urethra down to the prostate gland. While TURP is often successful at treating BPH, 5-10% of men will have some kind of sexual dysfunction and become impotent from the procedure.
Most doctors usually prescribe drugs to slow prostate growth by terminating the production of the enzyme 5-Alpha Reductase, which causes the buildup of DHT.
Proscar, the drug of choice by most physicians, does effectively shrink the size of the prostate gland; however, more than 50% of men have found it to become ineffective after taking it for just one year. Proscar is an expensive and largely temporary treatment with potentially dangerous side effects.
Taking Proscar can also hide the presence of prostate cancer because it does block the enzyme 5-Alpha Reductase, which renders the PSA test ineffective.
Proscar can also have very serious side effects on women. Pregnant women or those whom wish to become pregnant should not even handle the drug or be exposed to the semen of a man that is taking Proscar, because it has been proven to cause birth defects.
Cardura, Flomax and Hytrin have also been prescribed to treat BPH. Unfortunately, these drugs also have very similar side effects and are about as efficient.
Safe and Natural Alternatives
Several natural herbs have been found to safely and effectively treat many ailments, including BPH. Saw Palmetto Extract, which comes from the small saw palmetto tree found in the West Indies and the southern Atlantic coast of North America, has been known to effectively inhibit the production of the 5-Alpha Reductase enzyme without the harmful side effects of prescription drugs.
Men who have used Saw Palmetto Extract have reported improvements within 30-45 days of use, with an average increase in urinary flow of 27% after 90 days of use.
Pygeum Africanun is another herb that has been helpful in the treatment of BPH. It is derived from an African evergreen tree and has been used in Germany since the early 1980’s to treat BPH. It is also included in about 80% of BPH prescriptions in France.
The combination of Pygeum Africanun and Saw Palmetto Extract has been shown to improve the symptoms of BPH immensely.
Nutrients are also of great importance in maintaining a healthy prostate. Zinc, which occurs naturally in the prostate, is extremely important for its health and nourishment.
A normal prostate gland usually has about 10 times more Zinc than any other body organ. In several documented cases, Zinc supplementation has been proven to alleviate the symptoms of chronic prostitis.
Lycopene is an antioxidant that has been shown to significantly reduce your risk of developing prostate cancer by as much as 35%!
Lycopene is a member of the carotenoid family and can be found in naturally reddish fruits, such as tomatoes, guava and pink grapefruit. It must be included in a healthy diet because it is not produced naturally in the body.