Know Thy Prostate: Important Prostate Points
Although many men prefer to avoid the doctor's office altogether, let alone acquiesce to a prostate exam, it's important to know that prostate health is a major contributor to men's well-being and overall health.
Prostate cancer is the most common type of cancer in American men other than skin cancer, and it's the second leading cause of cancer death in men. However, the statistics are not completely grim, as one man in six will get prostate cancer in his lifetime but only one in 34 will die of the disease.
Prostate cancer can be difficult to diagnose, as testing methods are not always reliable. It is also hard to determine the likelihood of it spreading. Nevertheless, the best strategy to prevent prostate cancer is to obtain regular screenings, know the symptoms, and live a healthy lifestyle (incorporating the suggestions below).
The American Cancer Society recommends that men over 50 receive a yearly prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood test and a digital rectal exam (DRE), which is slightly uncomfortable but is over quickly. Men at high risk for prostate cancer, including African American men and those with a close relative who had prostate cancer before age 65 should begin receiving annual tests at 45. However, screenings should be taken with "a huge grain of salt," according to Dr. Eric Yarnell, a faculty member at Bastyr University who specializes in men's health. Dr. Yarnell believes that so many needless biopsies are done as a result of the PSA test that men should not agree to have a biopsy unless their market is over 10. Men should conduct plenty of research before agreeing to biopsies or treatment.
What are the symptoms of prostate cancer? Symptoms include difficulty urinating, impotence, loss of bladder control, weight loss and fatigue, pain in the spine, hips or other bones and weakness or numbness in the legs or feet.*
Known risk factors for prostate cancer include a diet high in full-fat dairy products and red meat as well as eating few fruits and vegetables. Some have associated male-pattern baldness with a higher risk for prostate cancer, since higher levels of male hormones are thought to play a part in both conditions.
Recommended lifestyle measures include the following: Decrease your intake of red meat. Eat five or more servings of vegetables and fruits daily. Eat a diet rich in lycopenes, including tomatoes, pink grapefruit and watermelon. Exercise vigorously on a regular basis, especially if you're over 65. (Check with your doctor first.) Some evidence shows that a vegetarian or vegan diet lowers men's PSA marker. In one study, the men who ate vegan diets also exercised and took part in support groups and yoga. Some studies show that soybeans and soy products provide preventive benefits. For those low in selenium (as determined by a blood test), taking selenium supplements or eating selenium-rich foods may be helpful. The herb black cohosh warrants further investigation for prostate cancer prevention, according to Dr. Yarnell.
If you are interested in a preventive approach to prostate health, call 206.834.4100 to make an appointment with a naturopathic physician at Bastyr Center for Natural Health. Or, learn more about Bastyr's naturopathic services.
* Many other medical conditions can cause these symptoms as well, so be sure to check with your doctor or urologist about these symptoms.
Author: Sydney Maupin, staff writer
Date: May 2007
Sources: American Cancer Society; Eric Yarnell, ND; doctormurray.com.