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Prostate Cancer - Natural Prevention Strategies and Information for Females

by Aris Antoniou(more info)

listed in cancer, originally published in issue 175 - October 2010

Men tend to ignore health problems until it is too late. Women are far more likely to visit a doctor when they are sick, whilst men wait and hope that their symptoms disappear. This attitude can lead to serious consequences, especially in older males.

Therefore it can be useful for women to know a little about common male health problems. With this knowledge, females can spot vital warning signs that might otherwise be ignored and help persuade men to seek medical advice.

Prostate image

Take the prostate as a prime example; some men are unaware of where it is and what its functions are. Even if they are aware, they are likely to be too shy to seek medical attention when needed. However, it is important to do so, as prostate trouble can ruin male sexual performance and general quality of life. If left unchecked, serious prostate disorders including prostate cancer can be left to spread and become life threatening.

The Prostate Revealed

The prostate gland is situated at the base of the male bladder. It secretes fluid and nutrients that help to nourish sperm. The urethra, the tube that carries urine from the bladder to the penis, runs through the centre of it. Ducts which carry mature sperm also run through the gland. At birth, the prostate is tiny, but once puberty has occurred, male hormones stimulate the prostate to grow. With increasing age, most prostates enlarge further and this is when problems begin.

When Things Go Wrong

Prostate cancer is on the increase and this disturbing trend should be reason enough to persuade men to live healthy lives. It is vital that they visit their doctor if they start to experience any problems. Prostate cancer is a major killer of men in the West. Men can experience prostate problems before they are 60. But by the age of 70, a large percentage of men have enlarged prostates.

The three most common prostate problems are infection and the already mentioned cancer and enlargement. Prostatitis is the inflammation of the prostate. It can be caused by a urinary tract infection, but is usually a consequence of a bacterial infection in the urethra. This infection can sometimes be sexually transmitted which is yet another reason to practise safe sex. Prostatitis causes pain in the lower abdomen and penis; treatment is usually with antibiotics.

Prostate enlargement, or Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH), is a more complex problem and is thought to be caused by age related hormonal changes. These imbalances usually occur after the age of 40, causing an over production of cells in the prostate. BPH is not a dangerous condition, but if untreated, it can lead to other more serious ones.

Enlargement can constrict the urethra and cause bladder and kidney infections, mainly because the bladder fails to empty properly. In response to the increasing obstruction, the bladder's walls can also thicken due to the extra pressure needed to pass urine.

The early warning signs of enlargement are frequent urination, particularly during the night, which is accompanied by pain. Uncontrollable urges to urinate and a weak urine stream can also be experienced. If your partner visits the bathroom frequently during the night, then the possibility of a developing prostate problem should be discussed and a course of treatment planned.

Untreated BPH eventually starts to affect sexual performance; sufferers may experience painful orgasm, even painful intercourse. Many men become impotent, with the added embarrassment of incontinence. This leads to emotional stress, relationship problems and low self esteem. If all of this doesn't make men want to look after this gland, then nothing will.

The prostate can also become cancerous. Prostatic cancer is a malignant growth in the prostate gland. Hormonal influences can cause this form of cancer to grow rapidly and spread; it often extends to the bones causing severe pain. Surgery to remove the gland relieves any obstruction to the urethra, but if the cancer has spread, then further treatment is needed. This, as with most cancer therapy, can cause side effects.

If the cancer is contained within the gland and is not too advanced and aggressive, then radiation and hormonal therapy can successfully treat it. In fact, early prostate cancer is curable. However, side effects can occur from doses of radiation; these include, fatigue and bleeding from the bowel and bladder, which in turn can lead to anaemia.

Prostate cancer symptoms are not always severe; this can lead to late diagnosis of this serious disease. Sometimes many symptoms such as pain, trouble passing urine and blood in the urine are present, but not always. This is why it is highly advisable for men who are over 40 to consider an annual Prostate-Specific-Antigen (PSA) blood test.† This is usually the best starting point for diagnosing prostate problems, including cancer. If cancer is suspected, then a biopsy of the gland and body scans will be used to obtain an accurate diagnosis.

Prevention The Natural Way

The good news is that there are a number of natural products which the male in your life should be informed of. A healthy diet and certain supplements can save men the embarrassment of prostate trouble and lessen their chances of developing cancer. Furthermore, this regime can reduce men's chances of needing prostate medication, surgery, or a rectal examination, which is also used to check the health of the prostate.

Prostate disease is a developed world phenomenon. It is thought that diet and lifestyle are the major causes. Many young men spend much of their youth drinking too much alcohol and consuming large amounts of junk food. This increases their chances of developing prostate and other health problems in the future. If men do the opposite and avoid consuming  too many processed, overcooked meals, alcohol, sugary foods and convenience foods, then this is an early positive step for better prostate health and health in general.

The processing of foods destroys most of the nutrients used by the prostate gland, especially zinc. The prostate uses 10 times more of this nutrient than any other organ in the body.

A sufficient supply of zinc in the diet can help prevent prostate disorders from developing. Eating foods high in zinc like seafood and pumpkin seeds, plus zinc supplementation is highly recommended. This can reverse the zinc deficient diets many of us in the West consume. Pumpkin seeds also contain plant sterols and essential fatty acids such as Oleic and Linoleic. They are even used as therapy for BPH sufferers in some countries.

Plenty of antioxidant rich fresh vegetables and brightly coloured fruits should be included in the diet as well, along with lots of fresh still mineral water to keep the body hydrated. Essential nutrients such as Selenium should be consumed either in food or supplementation form. Selenium removes heavy metals such as Cadmium, which can stimulate the growth of prostate tissue, from the body. The richest source of this nutrient is Brazil nuts.

Recent scientific research suggests that eating tomatoes can help too. Tomatoes contain an antioxidant called Lycopene. Men who eat tomatoes and tomato products such as unsweetened puree, every day, are 33 per cent less likely to develop prostate cancer than those who never eat tomatoes.

Saw Palmetto is another popular natural remedy which can be used to prevent and treat prostate problems. This berry extract counteracts the effects of hormonal changes in the body.

Finally, an extract from a large evergreen tree - Pygeum Africanum - is also thought to reduce enlarged prostates by reducing inflammation, fluid retention and helping to repair damaged blood vessels. Pygeum contains active components such as Beta Sitosterol and Phytosterols. However, more research is needed to confirm that it successfully treats prostate problems as does Saw Palmetto.

Good vitamin companies make their own prostate support formulas. These supplements are the best way of getting all the vital nutrients the prostate needs. Most health shops stock various brands and they can be taken along with, or instead of a multi vitamin and mineral supplement.

If any men have symptoms of prostate disease, or are 42 or older, persuade them to visit their doctor for advice or for a precautionary health check as soon as possible. If they suffer from any serious health problems, make sure they consult a professional before taking the supplements mentioned.

If prostate cancer is suspected, then supplements should be discussed with the cancer specialist, as they can interfere with treatment and alter PSA blood test results. Taking high doses of zinc should be avoided if cancer is suspected.

Remember to always read the labels on health products. Dosage instructions and warnings should be clearly stated.  Never stop conventional medication without the permission of a qualified doctor. As with so many diseases, prevention is better than cure. If men want to continue to lead a healthy sex life well into old age, they should take care of their health and their prostate by following the simple measures mentioned.

There is no need to suffer; the body needs nutrients to function properly, the prostate gland is no different. With a little female persuasion, men can learn to look after their prostates and their health. Furthermore, they should also be encouraged to visit their doctor if problems develop. Help is out there, men must learn that suffering in silence is dangerous.

So remember these Early Warning Signs
  1. More than two visits to the toilet at night;.
  2. Uncontrollable urges to urinate;
  3. Weak urine stream.
Urgent Symptoms
  1. The need to urinate, but unable to;
  2. Burning or pain when urinating;
  3. Blood in urine;
  4. Pain in lower back, pelvis, or upper thighs;
  5. Reduced sexual ability, painful orgasm, and impotence;
  6. Discomfort during sexual intercourse.

Further Information

The following links on PH Online provide a wealth of information re Prostate Health:

†[Editor's Note: Due to the potential side effects associated with prostate cancer treatment and the sometimes questionable reliability of the PSA blood test in accurately predicting prostate cancer, there are differences in opinion regarding blanket PSA testing of men. And, due to the high prevalence of non-aggressive prostate cancer which doesn't progress in many older men, there are different schools of thought regarding treatment, some advocating a conservative, wait and see approach.]


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About Aris Antoniou

Aris Antoniou, Degree in Media Higher National Diploma in Media Studies, is a published freelance health writer with a special interest in alternative medicine. He may be contacted via  

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