Eat Right for Prostate Protection
April 17, 2008—Eating a diet rich in vegetables and low in fat and red meat, along with the occasional drink, may lower the risk of benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), according to a new study.
The prostate, a gland about the size of a walnut that wraps around the urethra, manufactures fluid that keeps sperm healthy. BPH, a noncancerous (benign) enlarged prostate, is a common condition in men that increases in prevalence after age 40 and significantly after age 80. BPH can cause uncomfortable and annoying symptoms such as difficulty urinating and a frequent need to urinate at night. While BPH is not cancer, men with prostate cancer may also have an enlarged prostate.
According to the authors of this new study, obesity is the only well-established modifiable risk factor for BPH. In an effort to understand more about dietary risk factors for BPH, the researchers looked at diet, supplement use, and alcohol consumption among 4,770 men over a seven-year period.
At the end of the study, 876 men had developed BPH. Men who ate more vegetables (more than four servings per day) and protein and drank greater amounts of alcohol (fewer than two drinks per day) had a lower BPH risk compared with those who didn’t. Men who ate greater amounts of red meat and total fat had a higher BPH risk. Getting lycopene and zinc in the diet, and taking supplemental vitamin D were also associated with lower BPH risk, although the evidence was not as strong.
“Adopting a dietary pattern low in fat, high in vegetables, with moderate consumption of meat and alcohol may prevent or delay the development of BPH,” said Alan Kristal, PhD, of the Division of Public Health Sciences, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Program, Seattle, Washington. Kristal points out that supplements are not a substitute for a healthy diet since the association between supplements and reduced BPH incidence has not been proven.
These findings suggest that dietary modifications may be an attractive alternative to medical procedures and medications aimed at relieving BPH symptoms. “Drugs to treat BPH have side effects, some sexual, so a man with BPH symptoms who wants to avoid taking one or two drugs daily may want to at least try dietary modification and weight loss to see if it reduces his symptoms,” said Kristal.
(Am J Epidemiol 2008 doi:10.1093/aje/kwm389)
Jane Hart, MD, board-certified in internal medicine, serves in a variety of professional roles including consultant, journalist, and educator. Dr. Hart, a Clinical Instructor at Case Medical School in Cleveland, Ohio, writes extensively about health and wellness and a variety of other topics for nationally recognized organizations, Web sites, and print publications. Sought out for her expertise in the areas of integrative and preventive medicine, she is frequently quoted by national and local media. Dr. Hart is a professional lecturer for healthcare professionals, consumers, and youth and is a regular corporate speaker.
Copyright © 2008 Healthnotes, Inc. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of the Healthnotes® content is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Healthnotes, Inc. Healthnotes Newswire is for educational or informational purposes only, and is not intended to diagnose or provide treatment for any condition. If you have any concerns about your own health, you should always consult with a healthcare professional. Healthnotes, Inc. shall not be liable for any errors or delays in the content, or for any actions taken in reliance thereon. HEALTHNOTES and the Healthnotes logo are registered trademarks of Healthnotes, Inc.