What Is Benign Prostatic Hypertrophy?
Swelling of the prostate gland and elevated prostate specific antigen (PSA) are the latest conditions targeted by the pharmaceutical industry in their media blitz advertising campaign. Their goal is clearly to reach the millions of men suffering the discomfort and dysfunction of benign prostate diseases and to mobilize anxiety about the 30,000 men who die annually from prostate cancer. The awareness of the problem is good… but are drugs and surgery our only or our wisest choices?
Benign (non-cancerous) Prostate Hyper-trophy (BPH) alone contributes to over one billion dollars spent annually in pursuit of relief for symptoms of:
• Awakening from sleep to urinate a number of times per night.
• Feeling the bladder is not empty and frequent urination.
• Difficulty beginning urination.
While these symptoms are inconvenient, embarrassing and uncomfortable they are not immediately life threatening like heart attack or stroke.
Benign Prostate Hypertrophy (BPH) is simply prostate gland swelling which is commonly related to an inflammation and/or infection of the lower urinary tract and prostate. This swelling leads to incomplete emptying of the bladder while increasing the risk of urinary tract infection. This vicious cycle of swelling, urinary retention, and infection causes a worsening of symptoms, sometimes even leading to prostate cancer.
What Is The PSA Test and How Important Is It?
Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) is a protein that increases in the blood of men with various conditions of the prostate, including hypertrophy, inflammation, infection and cancer. It is NOT a specific indicator of cancer, merely an indicator of prostate tissue stress. Fueled by media frenzy and fear of prostate cancer, men often are counseled to aggressively pursue diagnostic studies and treatment of elevated PSA. But research shows that 85% of the time a man has an increase in PSA it is due to inflammation and infections of the prostate gland that have gone untreated and unsupported by healthful choices… not cancer!
How Does Lifestyle Affect The Incidence of BPH?
Research in China shows that men in rural areas have very low rates of clinical BPH, while men living in cities adopting a western lifestyle have a skyrocketing incidence of this condition (though it is still below rates seen in the West). Men who lead a western lifestyle have a much higher incidence of symptomatic BPH than men who lead a traditional or rural lifestyle.
What Causes Benign Prostatic Hypertrophy?
It is agreed by most experts that BPH is the result of 3 causes.
3. Autoimmune disease
Unhealthful lifestyle choices lead to impaired immune function that can lead to inflammation and decreased resistance to infection. Incomplete bladder emptying and sexual activity both may lead to bacterial concentrations causing infection of the urinary tract. Over months and years, bladder and prostate tissues stressed in this way could become damaged and result in autoimmune disease. When the protein component of an injured tissue enters the bloodstream, an antibody-antigen reaction develops against that tissue. If the injured tissue is from the prostate, one may suffer autoimmune attack on the prostate.
What Lifestyle Changes Can Help the Prostate Gland?
Take these steps for increasing prostate health:
• Eliminate processed foods and sugars
• Reduce or eliminate toxins in food, air and water
• Increase whole foods rich in antioxidants
• Increase whole foods rich in trace minerals such as selenium, zinc and iodine
• Increase healthful Vitamin D from brief periods of daily sunshine and whole food supplements
• Increase water consumption to frequently flush bacteria and toxins from the urinary tract
• Increase exercise
What About Supplements and BPH?
Some of the oldest nutritional support for BPH is the vitamin that used to be known as Vitamin F (Still available today as Cataplex F from Standard Process) If contains fatty acids, prostate extract and iodine. Research from the 1940’s showed the benefit of this combination is supporting BPH.1
Vitamin D3 is vital for a healthy prostate gland and normal calcium metabolism which is necessary for the prostate. Used by doctors since 1953 prostate tissue extracts called PMGs or protomorphogens have been used to support the health and repair of the prostate. (Prostate PMG)
Also successfully used to shrink prostate swelling and support the prostate have been saw palmetto berry, prostate tissue extract, stinging nettle root extract, pygeum, zinc land tomato fruit powder (Available today as Palmettoplex from Standard Process).2
1. Hart JP, Cooper WL. Vitamin F in the treatment of prostatic hypertrophy. Report Number 1, Lee Foundation for Nutritional Research, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, 1941
2. Wilt TJ, Ishani A, Stark G, MacDonald R, Lau J, Mulrow C. Saw palmetto extracts for treatment of benign prostatic hyperplasia: a systematic review. JAMA. 1998 Nov 11; 280(18):1604-9.