This one is for the men. And for all the people that love those men. Today I’m talking about the p-word. Prostate.
The most common problems concerning the prostate are benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), prostatitis, and prostate cancer. BPH is also referred to as an enlarged prostate and prostatitis is the inflammation of the prostate, typically due to bacteria. Both conditions are non-cancerous.
The Canadian Urological Association identifies the following symptoms associated with BPH:
- Feeling of incomplete bladder emptying
- Frequency (urinating too often)
- Intermittency (stopping and starting while urinating)
- Urgency (uncontrollable need to urinate)
- Weak stream
- Straining (having to push to empty)
- Nocturia (getting up at night to urinate)
Prostatitis shares many of the same symptoms as BPH; however, also, pelvic or genital pain, fever, nausea, vomiting, and malaise are commonly seen in prostatitis. Prostate cancer may be asymptomatic and may present similarly to BPH and prostatitis. Prostate cancer may also be accompanied by weight loss, back pain, and blood in urine or ejaculate.
Diet recommendations include limiting fluid intake at night, avoiding excessive alcohol intake, and avoiding irritating foods. Moreover, one study demonstrated that when compared to inactivity, men that were more physically active had a decreased risk for urinary symptoms associated with BPH. Phytotherapy such as saw palmetto, beta sitosterols, African plum, rye grass extract, milk thistle, and pumpkin seed extract may also be beneficial in reducing symptoms of BPH.
In some cases of prostatitis, food allergens and additives such as alcohol, caffeine, acidic foods, milk, wheat, chocolate, spices, sodium benzoate, and aspartame can trigger or aggravate symptoms. While antibiotics are typically first-line treatment, supplementation with zinc, quercetin, and/or pine pollen may also be beneficial.
Decreasing exposure to toxic chemicals, including smoking as well as regular physical activity and maintaining a healthy weight, have demonstrated decreased risk for advanced prostate cancer. A diet high in fruits and vegetables has also proven beneficial. The American Institute for Cancer Research has compiled an evidence-based list of “Foods That Fight Cancer” which can be viewed here: http://www.aicr.org/foods-that-fight-cancer/.
Lastly and most importantly, annual digital rectal exams are recommended for healthy men between the ages of 50-70. Any man presenting with the above symptoms should schedule a digital rectal exam with their GP or naturopathic physician immediately.
For more in-depth information on conditions affecting the prostate, check out the Patient Information section of the Canadian Urological Association’s website, as well as the Men’s Cancer section on the BC Cancer Agency website.
- BC Cancer Agency [Internet]. Vancouver [BC]. Cited May 17, 2017. Available from http://www.bccancer.bc.ca.
- Canadian Urological Association [Internet]. Dorval [QB]. Cited May 17, 2017. Available from http://hhtps://www.cua.org/en.
- DynaMed [Internet]. Ipswich (MA): EBSCO Information Services. 1995 – [cited 2017 May 17]. Available from http://www.www.dynamed.com. Registration and login required.
- Gaby, Alan (2011). Nutritional Medicine. Fritz Perlberg Publishing, Concord, NH: 795-797.