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Prostate Health: What Every Man Should Know
by Douglas McFarland, M.D.

Men, how many times did you get up and go to the bathroom last night? Does it seem to be getting worse? Have you had your prostate checked recently? The prostate gland is a small, but vital part of a man's reproductive system. It is about the size of a walnut and sits under the bladder, surrounding the urethra. When it is enlarged or inflamed, it can cut off the flow of urine from the bladder. The result is that you feel like you have to urinate more often, but with a less forceful stream of urine. These symptoms may be caused by an infected prostate, benign prostatic hypertrophy (BPH) or prostate cancer. If you have any of these symptoms, the most important thing you can do is see your doctor and be checked for cancer. BPH is an age-related enlargement of the prostate that occurs to some degree in all men. About 50% of men in their 60s and 90% in their 70s have symptoms of BPH.

So how do you keep your prostate healthy? Many studies on specific ingredients have shown great therapeutic effects on BPH and even cancer-preventive effects. In Europe, herbal treatments are the most popular prescriptions for BPH! Here's a brief list:

Saw Palmetto: Numerous placebo-controlled studies testing saw palmetto against standard drug treatments showed almost equal benefit. Fatty acids from saw palmetto reduce the production of 5-DHT (5-dihydrotestosterone), which causes prostate enlargement in BPH. Saw palmetto has been shown to improve urine flow, decrease nighttime urination frequency, and aid in complete bladder emptying in BPH.

Pygeum africanum: This herb has several effects on BPH, including reducing bladder neck muscle hyper-contractability, inhibiting prostate fibroblast (scar tissue) activity, and improving pre-cancerous prostate cell appearance.

Beta Sitosterol: This group of specific plant-derived chemicals has been found to improve BPH symptoms. They may even be the actual "prostate-active" ingredients in many herbal supplements.

Lycopene: This red-colored carotene, found in tomato products, has been shown to reduce the growth of prostate cancer cells.

Beta Glucan: This unique carbohydrate molecule is able to stimulate special cells in the immune system to help fight cancer.

Zinc: Low zinc levels in the blood and prostate are linked to prostate cancer. Zinc has shown a protective effect against prostate cancer.

Selenium: Multiple powerful studies have shown selenium may reduce the risk of prostate cancer.

(We at Mindbodyhealth sell items that have many of the above products in them and a couple we recommend are Prostate PSA Protector and Advanced Men's Formula)

Selected Sources
bulletGerber GS, et al., Saw Palmetto (Serenoa repens) in men with lower urinary tract symptoms: effects on urodynamic parameters and voiding symptoms. Urology Jun 1998;51(6):1003-7.
bulletMarks LS, et al., Effects of a saw palmetto herbal blend in men with symptomatic benign prostatic hyperplasia. J Urology May 2000;163(5):1451-6.
bulletAndro MC, et al., Pygeum africanum Extract for the Treatment of Patients with Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia: A Review of 25 years of Published Experience. Curr Ther Res. 1995;56(8):796-817.
bulletKilppel KF, et al., A multicentric, placebo controlled, double-blind clinical trial of beta-sitosterol (phytosterol) for the treatment of benign prostatic hyperplasia. British J Urology. Sept 1997;80(3):427-432.
bulletKucuk O, et al., Phase II Randomized Clinical Trial of Lycopene Supplementation before Radical Prostatectomy. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev Aug 2001;10(8):861-868.
bulletFullerton SA, et al., Induction of apoptosis in human prostatic cancer cells with beta-glucan (Maitake mushroom polysaccharide). Mol Urol Spring 2000;4(1):7-13.
bulletKristal AR, et al., Vitamin and mineral supplement use is associated with reduced risk of prostate cancer. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev 1999 Oct;8(10):887-92.
bulletLiang JY, et al., Inhibitory effect of zinc on human prostatic carcinoma cell growth. Prostate 1999 Aug 1;40(3):200-7.
bulletClark LC, et al., Decreased incidence of prostate cancer with selenium supplementation: results of a double-blind cancer prevention trial. Br J Urol 1998 May;81(5):730-4.
bulletNelson MA, et al., Selenium and prostate cancer prevention. Semin Urol Oncol 1999 May;17(2):91-6.