“The walnut-sized gland” that can ruin your day…
Prostate Health is a significant part of a man’s overall health and, while easy to overlook, should not be neglected. But if you’re a man, taking steps to improve your prostate health should be one of your top priorities.
The prostate, a walnut-sized organ located in the male reproductive system, produces seminal fluid and helps to transport sperm. As men age, it’s increasingly important to take care of their prostate health, as the risk of prostate cancer is age related.
- Prostate Anatomy and Function: The prostate gland surrounds the urethra, the tube responsible for carrying urine from the bladder out of the body, and it plays a vital role in the male reproductive system. Its primary function is to produce and secrete seminal fluid, which nourishes and transports sperm during ejaculation.
- Age-Related Changes: As men age, their bodies undergo various physiological changes, and the prostate is not exempt from these transformations. One of the most notable age-related changes in the prostate is its enlargement. This condition is medically known as benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), and it is a common occurrence in aging men. BPH results from the non-cancerous growth of prostate cells, leading to an enlarged prostate gland. The exact cause of BPH remains the subject of ongoing research, but age is a significant factor in its development.
- Symptoms of an Enlarged Prostate: An enlarged prostate can lead to a range of urinary symptoms, including increased frequency of urination, difficulty starting and stopping urination, weak urine flow, and a feeling of incomplete emptying of the bladder. These symptoms can vary in severity from mild to severe and can significantly impact an individual’s daily life.
- Prevalence of BPH: BPH is highly prevalent among older men. While it is not a life-threatening condition, it can cause bothersome urinary symptoms that affect an individual’s quality of life. Approximately half of all men between the ages of 51 and 60, and up to 90 percent of men over the age of 80, experience symptoms of BPH. This prevalence underscores the strong relationship between age and prostate health. It is a symptom that waxes and wanes according to changes in diet and behaviour.
- Hormonal Changes: Age-related hormonal changes play a crucial role in the development of an enlarged prostate. Testosterone, the primary male sex hormone, is converted into another hormone called dihydrotestosterone (DHT) within the prostate gland. DHT is believed to contribute to prostate growth.
- Prostate Cancer Risk: While BPH is not cancerous, there is a connection between age and prostate cancer risk. Prostate cancer is the most common cancer among men and its incidence increases with age. Six out of ten prostate cancers are diagnosed in men aged 65 or older. Age is considered one of the most significant risk factors for prostate cancer, and the likelihood of developing this disease increases as men get older.
- Prostate Cancer Screening: Due to the increased risk of prostate cancer with age, healthcare providers often recommend regular screenings for prostate-specific antigen (PSA) levels and digital rectal exams for men over a certain age, typically starting at age 50. These screenings help detect prostate cancer in its early stages when it is more treatable.
- Prostate Cancer Progression: Age not only affects the risk of developing prostate cancer but also the progression of the disease. Prostate cancer in older men tends to be slower-growing and less aggressive than in younger individuals. Therefore, healthcare providers may adopt a watchful waiting approach for older patients, monitoring the cancer’s progression rather than pursuing aggressive treatment. It is a cancer most sufferers die with rather than die of….
- Treatment Options: Age is a critical factor in determining the appropriate treatment for prostate health issues. For men with an enlarged prostate or BPH, treatment options may include medication, minimally invasive procedures, or surgery, depending on the severity of symptoms and the individual’s overall health. Similarly, the treatment approach for prostate cancer varies based on age, overall health, and the stage and aggressiveness of the cancer.
- Psychological and Emotional Impact: Prostate health issues can have a significant psychological and emotional impact on older men. The diagnosis of prostate cancer, like any cancer diagnosis, can be distressing. It’s essential to consider the emotional well-being of older individuals when discussing prostate health, as the fear and uncertainty surrounding these conditions can affect their overall quality of life.
- Prostate Health Maintenance: While age is a significant factor in prostate health, there are steps that men can take to maintain their prostate health as they age.
So, what are the best steps you can take to improve your prostate health? Here are some of the most important ones:
1. Eat a healthy diet: Eating a healthy, balanced diet is one of the best things you can do for your prostate health. Make sure to include plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains into your meals. You should also limit your intake of alcohol, red meat, sugar, and processed foods.
2. Exercise regularly: Regular physical activity helps to keep your body strong and increase your overall health. Aim for at least 30 minutes of exercise per day.
3. Get adequate sleep: Lack of sleep can have a negative impact on your health. Aim for at least 7-8 hours of sleep every night.
4. Drink plenty of water: Water helps to flush toxins and other impurities out of your body. Make sure to drink plenty of fluids every day.
5. Get regular screenings: One of the most important steps you can take to maintain your prostate health is to get regular PSA screenings.
Talk to Thrive’s in-House doctor – Bruce Thomson – about your individual risk factors and make sure to get screened appropriately. It is a simple blood test and can make all the difference in the world. Thrive will be having a special for the month of Movember of R50 per PSA test.
Dr Bruce practices from Thrive Kloof every Tuesday and Thursday and Thrive Ballito every Friday by appointment only.
By: Dr Bruce Thomson
firstname.lastname@example.org | Whatsapp: 0837899328