It is very fitting that May celebrates women and June honors men. If women are yin, then men are the complimenting counter part called yang. I'd like to address the yang and more specifically, the yang's prostate!
I have 4 brothers, almost a dozen uncles, and scads of male cousins. I love the men in my life, and adore the man I married almost 2 decades ago. This topic is very important to me as it should be to you!
Prostate health, including cancer, is the number one health issue for men of all ages. So hopefully all of you men, and concerned women with men in their lives, can read this and have a better understanding of how to prevent prostate issues.
The prostate is a gland located deep in the male pelvis. This gland starts out about the size of a walnut, but over time may increase to the size of a lemon... A lemon! When you consider the size difference it is easy to see why the prostate causes urinary problems. Could you imagine something the size of a lemon pushing on your bladder? Sounds like agony!
This gland is surrounded by muscles, tissues, nerves, and the bladder. Women do not have a prostate gland. Because it is so close to the bladder and urethra, the prostate can cause problems with urination. The urethra is a tube that carries urine from the bladder to the penis. When the prostate is enlarged or inflamed, it can partially block the urethra causing difficulty urinating, and conversely it may put pressure on the bladder which will cause urgency or frequent urination. Either way, the prostate will cause urinary symptoms.
First of all, prostatitis is the leading health problem for men younger than 50 years old. An enlarged prostate is prevalent for men over 50 years old. Thus, prostatitis is considered a younger man's issue, while an enlarged prostate is the older man's problem.
Prostatitis means the prostate is inflamed. Any word that has "itis" at the end means "inflammation of" or "pain in." For example the latin root "arth" means joints. So arthritis means inflammation of the joints. Following that rule, then, colitis means inflammation of the "col" or colon.
The prostate can become inflamed due to a bacterial infection, chronic bacterial infection, sexually transmitted disease, or unknown reasons.
Enlarged prostate or BHP is thought to be caused by changing hormone levels and abnormal cell growth. Basically, in this common prostate problem the cells in the prostate begin to multiply and so the prostate gets larger, which puts undue pressure on the bladder and urethra.
Prostate cancer can be devastating. The good news (if there is such a thing) is that prostate cancer does not spread or grow very quickly. In fact, it is so slow growing that most men will die with prostate cancer, but not from prostate cancer. Several studies show that excess estrogen is a cause of prostate cancer. As one of America's leading health problems, it comes as no surprise that over 2 million men in America are living with prostate cancer right now.
All these statistics may seem like bad news, but here comes the good news.
The best way to protect against common prostate problems through nutrition is eating cruciferous vegetables. That includes broccoli, kale, brussel sprouts, cauliflower, and turnips.
Cruciferous vegetables contain a phytonutrient (plant nutrient) called indole-3-carbinole which is changed within the liver to Diindolylmethane (DIM). These compounds assist the liver in breaking down and detoxifying estrogen, cause cancer-cell death, and protect cell DNA. I bet you didn't know that broccoli can do all of that!
My advice is: prevention is the best medicine. Begin to include some of these cruciferous vegetables into your daily diet. It may help you avoid the uncomfortable reality that prostate issues are likely headed your way.
Next week I'll be introducing you to a larger list of natural foods that you can eat to protect your prostate---recipes included!
Yu C, Gong AY, Chen D, Solelo Leon D, Young CY, Chen XM. Phenethyl isothiocyanate inhibits androgen receptor-regulated transcriptional activity in prostate cancer cells through suppressing PCAF. Mol Nutr Food Res. 2013.
Sarkar FH, Li Y. Indole-3-carbinol and prostate cancer. J Nutr. 2004 Dec;134(12 Suppl):3493S-3498S.Fong AT, Swanson HI, Dashwood RH, Williams DE, Hendricks JD, Bailey GS. Mechanisms of anti-carcinogenesis by indole-3-carbinol. Studies of enzyme induction, eletrophile-scavenging, and inhibition of aflatoxin B1 activation. Biochem Pharmacol. 1990 Jan 1;39(1):19-26.
Chinni SR, Li Y, Upadhyay S, Koppolu PK, Sarkar FH. Indole-3-carbinol (I3C) induced cell growth inhibition, G1 cell cycle arrest and apoptosis in prostate cancer cells. Oncogene. 2001 May 24;20(23):2927-36.
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