Benign Prostatic Hypertrophy (BPH) is when the prostate gland that sits right below the bladder becomes enlarged. This is common when a man ages. When this gland enlarges, it causes obstruction of urine. The symptoms vary, but the most common problems include interrupted urine stream, urgency and leaking, and more frequent urination, especially at night.
There are two theories as to why this occurs:
Guys produce both testosterone, an important male hormone, and small amounts of estrogen, a common female hormone. As men age, the level of active testosterone in the blood decreases leaving a higher proportion of estrogen. Studies done on animals have suggested an association between BPH and a higher amount of estrogen in men. A higher amount of estrogen within the prostate gland can increase cell growth.
Other research focuses on dihydrotestosterone (DHT), which is a substance derived from testosterone in the prostate. It is much more potent than testosterone and can continue to be produced in the prostate even though testosterone levels may be dropping. The concern is that DHT causes increased cell proliferation (growth). Testosterone is converted to DHT by an enzyme called 5-alpha reductase. Scientists have also noted that men who do not produce DHT do not develop BPH.
Things that disrupt testosterone/estrogen balance include poor diet, xenoestrogen and chemical exposure, chronic stress, liver dysfunction, high cholesterol, insulin resitance/diabetes, obesity, anxiety, depression, high blood pressure and hypertension.
So prevention of BPH involves keeping estrogen at a healthy low level and inhibiting 5 alpha reductase from converting testosterone to high levels of DHT. Here are the 7 things men can do to prevent BPH:
1. Saw Palmetto- controls the conversion of testosterone to DHT by inhibiting 5 alpha reductase. It has anti-estrogen properties and is an anti-inflammatory.
2. Exercise and weight resistance- it improves estrogen clearance.
3. Vitamin D- get your level checked. It is actively metabolized in the prostate, and if you don’t have enough, it converts testosterone to DHT.
4. Organic foods, free of hormones and only grass fed meats. Eat a paleolithic diet with lots of fruits and veges with meat used as a condiment. Also, avoid eating or heating foods in plastics that leach chemicals causing high levels of estrogen in the body.
5. Genestin- a type of isoflavone found in soy inhibits 5 alpha reductase.
6. Nettles Root- promotes healthy estrogen metabolism
7. Flax seed meal- this also helps keep estrogen in check. Flax seed oil does not do the same thing. Add flax to cereal, salads, yogurt or smoothies.
Prostate cancer is not related to benign prostatic hypertrophy. Check with your doctor if you have symptoms of BPH.