All men have prostate glands which means that all men are in danger of getting prostate cancer. This article will discuss some ways of lowering the risk of getting this disease which is diagnosed in about 200,000 American men every year.
The prostate is a gland in a man’s lower pelvic region, and is located between the rectum and the bladder. It’s small, only about the size of a walnut, although it grows with age. It produces a milky-white substance that combines with sperm when men ejaculate. It wraps around the urethra (tube which expels urine) and any substantial changes in the prostate can affect a man’s ability to urinate.
In order to protect prostate health, a man must visit his doctor regularly and get two very important tests. The first test is the digital rectal exam, where a doctor will place his lubricated, gloved finger into a man’s rectum in order to feel the prostate gland. This exam is slightly uncomfortable, but is painless and necessary for a doctor to know if there are any changes or abnormalities in the prostate. The prostate should be small and smooth, but if the doctor feels lumps, or a hard granular lumpy area, he will need to take other tests.
The second test is called the PSA blood test. PSA stands for prostate-specific antigen and is a protein produced by the prostate. If the prostate is experiencing abnormal growth, or there is a tumor present, the level of PSA rises. A man’s normal PSA level is at or below 4ng/mL (four nanograms per milliliter). If the PSA blood test is found to be at a higher level than that, further tests are necessary.
These tests are important to alert a man of any changes in his prostate which could be precursors of cancer. Particularly for men who are over fifty or who have relatives who have had the disease, it is important to keep a close eye on the PSA level. However, if the PSA level is above normal, it doesn’t necessarily mean cancer is present. There are other things that can be the cause, and these things also have to do with the general health of the prostate. For instance, an inflammation of the prostate gland called prostatitis can increase PSA levels but is not life threatening; it can be cured using antibiotics in a simple and safe way, and that will improve the health of the prostate.
Diet has been shown to impact the risk of prostate cancer. Also, there is an amino acid in the blood called homocysteine, and when levels are high, that means there’s a vitamin deficiency in the blood which could lead to heart disease and cancer risks. Simply taking vitamin supplements of folic acid and other B vitamins will help decrease the homocysteine levels and help keep a body healthy.
There are foods which are thought to decrease the chance of getting prostate cancer. These are whole grain foods like oatmeal and brown rice which are helpful; nuts and fish like salmon (which has Omega-3 fatty acids) have a good kind of fat that the body needs; dark green vegetables like spinach and asparagus are high in vitamin B which is good to lower homocysteine levels and promote good health; and there is the dark red pigment found in tomatoes called lycopene which doctors believe may be helpful in preventing cancer. There are also foods which are believed to increase the risk of prostate cancer, like red meat and fatty dairy products and so should be avoided.
Daily exercise can help avoid prostate cancer in two ways. It can keep someone from being obese, because obesity has been linked to cancer risks. And it increases the level of serotonin which helps fight depression and stress that are detrimental to the health of the prostate, and of the entire body.