Sunday, March 18, 2018

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Bigger Isn’t Better

Written by  Rick Piester

For such a small thing (about the size of a walnut,) the prostate sure gets a lot of press. The vaguely kidney-bean-shaped gland sits at the base of the male bladder and encircles the urethra, the tube that carries urine and semen out of the body.

Its job is to produce some of the fluid that nourishes and protects sperm cells in semen.

Every male should be mindful of the prostate, because every male has one. And after age 50 or so, it can be the source of trouble that no man would want. The prostate tends to enlarge as a man ages, with ills ranging from an overly enlarged prostate (benign prostatic hyperplasia in medical terms) to inflammation of the gland (prostatitis) to prostate cancer, which can affect as many as 230,000 men each year.

So, it makes good sense for every man to do what he can in youth to avoid problems with the prostate later on in life. There’s no guarantee, but there are steps that men can take in their 20s, 30s and 40s to up the chances for a healthier 50s and beyond.

According to Robert D. Cook, MD, of the Centra Health Seven Hills Urology Center in Lynchburg, the main step to take in prostate care is to take care of the packaging around it. Good general health practices, Dr. Cook says, can pay dividends in prostate health.

Certain risk factors, he says, can’t be avoided. Those include your age, your family history, your race, and even where you live. Research suggests that men living above the 40th degree of latitude have a higher chance of a diagnosis of prostate cancer. Virginia is below 40 degrees latitude.

Those factors aside, here are some things you can do to keep yourself, and your prostate, healthy:

  • Cultivate a diet low in saturated fats and high in fruits and vegetables. Limit your intake of animal fats, including dairy products; eat lots of fish, fruits (especially watermelon) vegetables (especially cooked tomatoes, onions, garlic, broccoli, cauliflower, leafy green vegetables and others). Green tea also helps
  • Although there are no studies that suggest clear benefit to the prostate of herbal supplements, Dr. Cook cautions that if you take them, see them as medications and treat them accordingly.
  • And the American Urological Association recommends screening for prostate cancer between the ages of 40 and 70. The screening is quick, simple and painless, involving a rectal exam and a blood test called the PSA.



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