Prostate Health - Risks and Solutions

For a male over 50 years of age, there is nothing more frightening than hearing a doctor say, "Your prostate appears to be enlarged. We need to do more tests." This condition is known as benign prostatic hypertrophy, caused usually by a non-cancerous growth that affects about half of men in their 60's and close to 80% of men in their 80's. In younger males, a common problem is prostate inflammation, called prostatitis.

One routine test used to help diagnosis genuine prostate problems is a check of the PSA (prostate-specific antigen) level in a male's blood. This antigen level may be raised in men with prostate cancer. A digital rectal exam, ultrasound and biopsy are also used to detect and confirm serious conditions.

Prostate cancer is the second most common form of cancer in males, according to the National Cancer Institute. The prostate is a small gland, tucked below the bladder and is normally about the size of a walnut. Generally, cancer of the prostate increases in size and may cause:

• Blood in the urine
• Difficulty urinating
• Difficulty starting the urine stream
• Difficult or painful ejaculation
• Pain in low back, hips or upper thighs

From several studies, we know that a healthy lifestyle helps - more exercise and eating a healthful, high fiber, soy-based diet. Consuming less red meat, sugar and alcohol may also make a difference. Also, decreasing stress may be helpful.

Nature works!

For over 3500 years, certain plant extracts have been used for prostate assistance. A study in Italy, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, found that half of all patients with enlarged prostates who were treated with saw palmetto experienced certain improvements, such as increased urine flow.

The Mayo Clinic believes that saw palmetto is worthy of further research. Dr. Andrew Weil asserts that saw palmetto may work as a remedy because its active ingredient (serenoa repens) helps protect the prostate from testosterone and also works to promote prostate shrinkage. The consumption of soy foods may also contribute to prostate health.

All men over 50 should consider having the simple PSA blood test. Only after such a test is performed, can one be sure about prostate cancer. Trying to be healthy, eating right and exercising may have greater positive effects than you ever imagined.

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