Each second, a man is diagnosed with prostate problems. Lycopene, a natural substance that is present in tomatoes, has the ability to protect the prostate thanks to its properties for our health.
Prostate cancer is one of the main causes of morbidity and mortality among men. According to the Spanish Association Against Cancer (AECC): “Prostate cancer is the second most frequent in men with approximately 899.000 new cases every year”.
- 1. What is the prostate?
- 2. Causes: why does the prostrate grow with age?
- 3. What are the symptoms of prostate hyperplasia or prostate enlargement?
- 4. Diagnose: how can we detect prostate enlargement and prevent prostate cancer?
- 5. Risk of suffering this disease
- 6. High intensity exercise is more important than what it seems
- 7. Hormone regulation
- 8. Prostatic hyperplasia therapy and treatment
- 9. A natural remedy for prostate problems
- 10. Prevention: can we avoid prostate enlargement and prevent prostate cancer?
- 11. Tips to take care of prostate health:
- 12. Conclusions
- 13. Sources
What is the prostate?
The prostate is a gland that is made up of cells which are in charge of producing and releasing chemical substances that are used by the organism. Only men have this organ, which is located in the pelvis at the back of the pubis, in front of the rectum and immediately under the bladder.
It surrounds the first part of the urethra (a conduct that transports the urine from the bladder to the outside), crossing it in its entirety (prostatic urethra).
All the changes and pathological processes, both benign (benign prostate hyperplasia) and malign that affect this gland will trigger more or less serious alterations when it comes to urinating and or/ejaculating.
Causes: why does the prostrate grow with age?
Although the exact causes are still not know, the excessive growth of the prostate in men as time goes by seems to be due to hormone changes in the male body. This process is similar to menopause in women.
As men grow old, their testosterone levels drop, resulting in a need to restructure the tissue. This increases the connective and glandular tissue, which is what causes a slow but constant growth, which can result in prostate cancer in the worst cases.
What are the symptoms of prostate hyperplasia or prostate enlargement?
Having enough information is important in order to prevent the prostate enlargement and avoid prostate cancer. The first symptoms of hyperplasia will start to appear after a few years.
The first symptoms include problems to urinate and nocturia. Later on, they gradually start to lose strength to urinate and it is only possible to do so by using the abdominal muscles.
Apart from the enlargement, there are other symptoms like pain, burning, and difficulty to urinate.
Men can develop other diseases when the prostate affects the functioning of the bladder to the point that it is no longer possible to empty it. Some of these diseases are infections of the urinary tract or kidney stones produced by a bad storage of urine.
Later on, they can experience other symptoms such as thirst, nausea, vomits, drowsiness and weight loss, which can be a sign of diseases related to kidney failure. Moreover, another symptom is a sudden urine retention, in which the bladder cannot be emptied at all.
Diagnose: how can we detect prostate enlargement and prevent prostate cancer?
Most of the time, problems to urinate are enough to make an early diagnosis. Moreover, an urologist can also perform several tests on the prostate by using a rectal scanner and find out if there has been any enlargement.
Ultrasounds are another common test in order to measure the exact size of the prostate. A doctor will carry out the necessary tests once we have enough information regarding urination problems and the issues with emptying the bladder.
When there is a prostate enlargement, we should also do a blood test and carry out tumor marker tests in order to either discard the possibility or to prevent the onset of cancer.
Risk of suffering this disease
Age: Many men experience an abnormal cell growth in the prostate from the age of 50 onward; this could eventually become a malign prostate tumor. The percentages speak for themselves:
- 46% of men at the age of 50 can suffer prostate cancer
- it can reach up to a 93% at the age of 70
That is why it is usually said that most men will suffer prostate cancer if they live long enough.
- Family history: A man with a father or brother who has suffered from prostate cancer at any age, has twice the risk of suffering this disease as well. Moreover, the chances increase with the number of relatives who have been diagnosed and how closer they were (having a father with prostate cancer increases the chances more than if it were an uncle).
- The race and ethnicity: Prostate cancer is more common in black men than in white non-hispanic, hispanic or asian men (around a 60% more).
- The habits increase the risk: smoking, obesity, unbalanced diet (especially if it is made up of saturated fats and proteins with products like cookies or cold meat), alcohol…
High intensity exercise is more important than what it seems
In these circumstances, it is crucial to adopt strategies in order to reduce the risk of suffering this disease, apart from improving the treatments. Quite often, we see how there are nutritional strategies (“eat this, not that”…) that can help to prevent it, but physical exercise is also a main strategy that is inexplicably less advised as well.
There are research studies that have proven that exercise, particularly weightlifting, can reduce the risk of suffering this disease up to a 40% (I want to emphasize this type of training because it seems to be undervalued when compared to cardiovascular exercise). An increase of lean mass is a positive factor even for those who suffer obesity when compared to people with the same weight, but with a higher body fat percentage.
Similar results have been reported in other studies related to regular physical exercise (strength + cardiovascular). A 69% of the studies conducted in the USA for 12 years showed a connection between this type of exercise and a reduction of the risk of suffering prostate cancer.
It is especially interesting to see how from that 69%, around more than 2/3 showed a connection between less risk of suffering prostate cancer and high levels of physical activity (the average lower risk ranged between 10-30%). This would equal more than 75 minutes of relatively high intensity exercise per week(>6 METs) to achieve an optimal cardio-respiratory capacity (which would equal the impressive amount of 11 minutes daily).
Everyone knows about the effects of physical exercise on regulating the hormone levels, preventing obesity, improving the immune function and reducing the oxidative stress. Doing exercise can also be good for men who are following a treatment for prostate cancer and it can help those patients who suffer from cancer to recover more quickly, reducing the chances of suffering from cancer again.
One of the benefits of exercise is that it reduces the resistance to insulin which is a highly effective strategy in order to lower the risk of suffering cancer. This produces a low glucose environment that discourages the growth and propagation of cancer cells.
Those who suffer from obesity tend to have higher concentrations of insulin and the type 1 insulin growth factor (IGF-1) in blood (measured with somatomedin in the chart below), which can increase the onset of some tumors.
Even though prostate cancer is hormone dependent in principle, the fact that there are cases of prostate cancer that occurs with low androgen levels makes us think that there can be other factors such as insulin or IGF-1. Recent meta analysis have proven this fact and they have associated an increase of the IGF-1 with prostate adenocarcinoma.
The adipose tissue produces adipokines which can stimulate or inhibit the cell growth. For example, leptin which tends to be more present in obese people, seems to stimulate the cell proliferation, while adiponectin is less abundant in obese people and it can have anti-proliferating effects.
Prostatic hyperplasia therapy and treatment
The treatment for prostate enlargement will depend on the nature of the pain and it will be treated just with medicines or surgery.
At the beginning, the doctor will gather all the information and prescribe medicines to relax the muscles of the prostate in order to facilitate the urinating process. Moreover, the growth of prostate can also be delayed with 5-alpha-reductase inhibitors.
If the enlargement is already in an advanced stage, the patients are usually advised to undergo a surgery to avoid the onset of prostate cancer. Laser is also a more classic type of treatment for this problem.
A natural remedy for prostate problems
When the prostate is slightly enlarged due to age, plant dietary supplements can help to relieve the discomfort. The most well-known cure is pumpkin seed, not only for relieving the need to urinate frequently, but also to relieve the inflammation of the bladder or prostate.
Saw Palmetto, nettle root and rye pollen are also good for treating prostate problems. Moreover, the phytosterols contained in these plants also have other benefits for our health, such as reducing the inflammation and swelling of the prostate gland, inhibiting long-term prostate enlargement and preventing the onset of prostate cancer.
Clinical studies have also proven that lycopene lowers the risk of suffering prostate cancer.
Lycopene is a carotenoid and, at the same time, it also has other benefits for health, like reducing the amount of free radicals. Lycopene is mainly present in ripe tomatoes and other tomato-based products.
It is advisable to take lycopene supplements to prevent the onset of prostate cancer since the body cannot produce lycopene and it is impossible to consume products that contain it every day. This supplement has powerful antioxidant effects, it improves our health, protects us against the free radicals and UV rays and it slows down the aging process.
If you want to purchase supplement to protect your prostate health, click here.
Prevention: can we avoid prostate enlargement and prevent prostate cancer?
We do not know which are the exact causes of prostate enlargement, which is why preventing it is so difficult. But it seems that following a healthier lifestyle and doing exercise regularly can help us reduce the risk of suffering prostate enlargement and prostate cancer.
It is believed that eating foods that contain phytoestrogens, such as lentils, beans, soy, oats, wheat bran or black tea can improve prostate health, counter its enlargement and prevent the risk of cancer. There is a much lower risk of suffering from prostate diseases in areas where this type of diet is popular, like Asian countries.
Tips to take care of prostate health:
- There are more possibilities to delay a surgery and avoid the onset of prostate cancer the sooner you treat an enlarged prostrate. It is crucial to read detailed information about the symptoms that can affect the prostate.
- It is necessary to consult your doctor and perform regular tests to detect and diagnose a benign prostate enlargement or prostate cancer as early as possible. An early detection of prostate cancer is vital for its treatment and cure.
- You should check the symptoms and make sure that the bowel movements are normal when compared to the liquids that you have drunk during the day. In addition, you should avoid being sat for long periods of time without urinating.
Therefore, the information clearly shows how physically active men with a higher lean muscle mass index can lower the risk of suffering from prostate cancer in a 10-40%, when compared to inactive people.
- Asociación Española Contra el Cáncer (2014). Cáncer de Próstata: aecc.es. Recuperado el 16 de abril de 2014
- Harvard Health Publications (2015). Prostate cancer: What’s your risk?. Harvard Men’s Health Watch. Belvoir Media Group, LLC. Boston. United States.
- Lakoski, S. G., Willis, B. L., Barlow, C. E., Leonard, D., Gao, A., Radford, N. B., … & Jones, L. W. (2015). Midlife cardiorespiratory fitness, incident cancer, and survival after cancer in men: The Cooper Center Longitudinal Study. JAMA Oncol.
- Lee, I. M. (2003). Physical activity and cancer prevention–data from epidemiologic studies. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, (35), 1823-7.
- Rowlands, M. A., Gunnell, D., Harris, R., Vatten, L. J., Holly, J. M., & Martin, R. M. (2009). Circulating insulin‐like growth factor peptides and prostate cancer risk: A systematic review and meta‐analysis. International journal of cancer, 124(10), 2416-2429.
- Singh, A. A., Jones, L. W., Antonelli, J. A., Gerber, L., Calloway, E. E., Shuler, K. H., … & Bañez, L. L. (2013). Association between exercise and primary incidence of prostate cancer. Cancer, 119(7), 1338-1343.