September is Prostate Health Month, also known as Prostate Cancer Awareness Month, a time for a better understanding of the health issues associated with a man’s prostate, prostatitis and prostate cancer. According to the Men’s Health Network, most men don’t know what their prostate is nor what it does. It’s time to empower men with knowledge about the prostate, giving them more personal power over their general health and their prostate health!
WHAT IS THE PROSTATE?
The prostate is a walnut-sized gland that functions in the reproductive system found just under the bladder. It undergoes many changes during the course of a man’s life and generally remains stable until men reach their mid-40’s when, in most men, the prostate begins to enlarge.
THE IMPORTANCE OF PROSTATE SCREENINGS
One of the best ways to beat prostate cancer is to get regular screenings using the prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test. By measuring the amount of PSA in a man's bloodstream, the test helps health professionals discover prostate cancer at earlier stages – giving men a better chance for survival. PSA screenings are especially important for men with a family history of prostate cancer and for African-American men, who have a 60% higher incidence of the disease than Caucasian men.
There are several risk factors associated with prostate cancer, including family history, race and diet, but the most common factor is age. Prostate cancer occurs mainly in older men. About six in ten cases are diagnosed in men aged 65 or older, and it’s rare before age 40. The American Urological Association (AUA) recommends all men obtain a baseline PSA test at age 40. This value can help doctors tailor future screening frequency. For example, men who have an initial PSA of less than 1.0 can generally be reassured and told to return at age 45. With thorough screening and careful management, the vast majority of men with prostate cancer will survive the disease and enjoy a high quality of life after treatment!
LEAD A HEALTHIER LIFE TODAY FOR A BETTER TOMORROW
More than 30 million men suffer from prostate conditions that negatively affect their quality of life. Before men face any kind of prostate health issue, the best plan is to prevent prostate problems from starting by first leading a healthy lifestyle. Men’s daily routine, including exercise and nutrition, has a tremendous impact on their prostate health. Healthy habits to improve men’s general heath can help prevent and lower risk factors for prostate disease and conditions. Some tips include:
• Drinking plenty of water and non-caffeinated green and hibiscus tea, which contain antioxidants.
• Exercise and lose weight. A study published in the Journal of Urology found that overweight men, especially men with a high amount of abdominal fat, have an increased risk of prostate gland enlargement or benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). Losing extra weight can help reduce the risk for prostate cancer and relieve prostatitis. Walking, jogging, swimming, tennis and other aerobic exercises can help men maintain a healthy weight. Kegel exercises can also strengthen and train men’s pelvic floor muscles to help control urination.
• Eat more prostate-friendly food, including oily fish high in omega-3 fatty acids, vegetables and foods high in healthy fats like avocados, nuts and olives. Foods that help fight prostate cancer include Asian mushrooms, tomatoes, pomegranate juice and walnuts. Eating less sugar and processed foods is also good guidance.
• Stress negatively affects prostate health. In fact, some men unknowingly tighten their pelvic muscles when stressed. This chronic tightening can create pelvic floor muscle problems and can be one of the causes of chronic prostatitis. Stress can also affect men with BPH. Stress can worsen symptoms such as urinary urgency, frequency and pain.
If men lead healthier lives daily, they can better manage their prostate health. Some things are beyond men’s control, but they can control day-to-day factors that lower their risk and give their bodies the best tools for fighting illness. In the case of chronic prostatitis and chronic pelvic pain syndrome, which is a difficult-to-treat and often-painful inflammatory condition, traditional treatments, such as antibiotics, tend not to work. Fortunately, there are more and better treatment options today than ever before!
About the author
Ashley Southern-Devoe, MSN, APRN, FNP-C,at Freeman Urology Associates, is devoted to providing patients the opportunity to express their concerns and getting their questions answered. The team at Freeman Urology Associates, including Dr. James Frogge, place a high emphasis on patient education to ensure patients have a clear understanding about their particular condition. For more information on the quality services provided at Freeman Urology Associates, please call 417.347.3703.