Image by Ethan Sykes

Prostate Cancer

The Health Index

There are several benign prostate diseases, which are not so rare in men – in most cases symptoms are not caused by cancer. The most common of those conditions is benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), which most men will have to deal with at some point. Some men contract prostatitis – prostate inflammation. But the prostate gland can of course become cancerous, and prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men. Overall, prostate disorders are the most common diseases that men have to deal with.

What are the causes?

Before the age of 45, prostate cancer is very rare. The risk of prostate cancer increases with advancing age. Age is one of the most important risk factors for prostate cancer. The causes of prostate cancer are not exactly known yet. We do know, however, that several factors have to come together for prostate cancer to develop. There is no single cause. The following factors play a role in prostate cancer or are at least discussed as such:

 

  • Genes: If first-degree relatives such as father, grandfather or brother have prostate cancer, the individual risk of prostate cancer increases. This hereditary connection also exists in family forms of breast and ovarian cancer in female relatives.   

  • Hormones, above all the sex hormone testosterone   

  • Parentage and skin colour: Dark-skinned men are more likely to develop prostate cancer.   

  • Lifestyle: unhealthy diet, overweight, smoking, high alcohol consumption, lack of exercise

What are the symptoms?

The tricky thing about prostate cancer is that it does not usually cause symptoms in the early stages. However, there are some warning signs that men should take seriously and see a doctor about them. The reason for typical symptoms, such as problems urinating, is often benign prostatic hyperplasia, but not in every case. A rising PSA level can also be an indication of prostate cancer.

Early signs of prostate cancer can be:

  • Frequent urination, especially at night (nocturia) - men have to go out more often at night   

  • Problems starting or stopping urination   

  • Weak or interrupted urine stream   

  • Urinary incontinence, leakage of urine   

  • Urinary retention, unable to urinate   

  • Pain during ejaculation or urination   

  • Blood in urine or ejaculate   

  • Pain in the prostate area   

  • Pain in the lower back (lower back with coccyx and lumbar vertebrae), pelvis, hips or thighs)   

  • Erectile dysfunction   

  • Reduced ejaculation

Always consult your doctor if you notice one or more of those symptoms! He or she will find out what is really causing your symptoms. The most important early detection tests are the determination of your PSA level and the palpation (digital-rectal examination). The earlier prostate cancer is detected, the more treatable it is and the better your chances of recovery. And today, those chances of recovery from prostate cancer are very good! It is estimated that more than 90 percent of men are still alive five years after diagnosis.

How can a nutrition practitioner help?

Poor lifestyle choices, overweight and obesity are among the risk factors for prostate cancer. As it is a multifactorial disease, you have the option of eliminating some of those risk factors. Whether or not there is a genetic predisposition, diet and lifestyle interventions may be able to greatly reduce your risk of prostate cancer.

 

A nutrition practitioner will ask questions about your overall health and health history, diet, lifestyle and exercise habits. They will look at your food diary to see where there may be room for improvement. Your nutrition practitioner may also recommend functional testing. They will then develop a customised diet, supplement and lifestyle plan for you.

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