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Prostate Health

Men's Health | November 14, 2016 | Author: Naturopath

male, prostate

Prostate Health

Prostate health has gained attention over the past ten years, with events like Movember shining a spotlight on men's health and raising funds to research this important gland.
But if you're not clear on what the prostate does, or how to take care of yours - don't worry.

It's simple.

The prostate is a gland that is about the size of a small apricot and is located underneath the bladder. It has three main functions:

  • Secretion of nutrient-rich, white fluid that makes up one-third of semen.
  • Propelling semen into the urethra during ejaculation.
  • Regulation of urine flow.

Inflammation, oxidative stress, and changes to testosterone levels are the controllable risk factors for the two major prostate conditions: benign prostatic hyperplasia and prostate cancer.

Enlarged Prostate (Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia)

Benign prostatic hyperplasia or BPH is the most common prostate health problem, and is associated with ageing. Half of all men will develop BPH between the ages of 50 and 60, and by 90% of men will have BPH by the age of 90.

Symptoms of benign prostatic hyperplasia:

  • Frequent and/or uncomfortable urination.
  • Post-void residual urine – that is, an inability to completely empty the bladder.
  • Experiencing an interrupted, weak or “dribbly” stream of urine.

While BPH can dramatically reduce quality of life, the condition is non-cancerous and there has been no link found between BPH and prostate cancer.

Prostate Cancer

Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men, affecting 1 in 7 Australian men. It is very slow-growing, and symptoms rarely present until late in the cancer development – the symptoms are then similar to those of BPH, but may also include blood in the urine or ejaculate. Late stages can be lethal, but early detection and intervention is becoming more common, and survival rates are increasing.

Natural Therapies for Prostate Health

While BPH and prostate cancer are very different conditions that rarely coexist, the risk factors are often the same – hormone imbalances, age, genetics, inflammation and oxidative stress. Many herbal medicines and nutritional supplements have an affinity for the prostate are commonly prescribed to support medical treatment, or to prevent the onset of prostate condition.

Lycopene

Lycopene is a powerful carotenoid that exhibits antioxidant and anti-inflammatory action in the prostate.

While it is naturally found in high amounts in tomatoes, it becomes more bioavailable and active when the tomato is cooked, such as in pasta sauce.

A diet high in lycopene may be protective against the progression of prostate cancer, and supplementation has been shown to reduce the growth of BPH especially when combined with herbal extracts such as saw palmetto.

Saw Palmetto (Serenoa repens)

Saw palmetto is used in traditional Western herbal medicine to treat lower urinary tract symptoms commonly associated with BPH. A recent 90 day trial showed that saw palmetto extract reduced markers of chronic prostate inflammation in men with lower urinary tract symptoms, and a 2015 open trial of 165 BPH patients showed that 160mg of saw palmetto extract per day improved quality of life and symptoms after 6 weeks of treatment. After 12 weeks, there was also improvement to urinary flow rate and ability to empty the bladder.

Whether saw palmetto has any efficacy in prostate cancer has not been clearly established. One study looked at saw palmetto supplementation in patients undergoing radiotherapy for prostate cancer, and found that the herbal extract had no effect on outcomes, nor on toxicity of the radiotherapy.

Pumpkin Seed (Cucurbita pepo)

Pumpkin seed extract appears to exhibit anti-inflammatory and anti-androgen effects, specifically reducing prostate growth and preventing LUTS (lower urinary tract symptoms) and BPH. A 2016 review of the literature concluded that pumpkin seed extract shows great promise as a treatment for lower urinary tract symptoms and benign prostatic hyperplasia, and other in vitro studies suggest that it may be useful in preventing prostate cancer.

Small Flowered Willow (Epilobium parviflorum)

Epilobium extracts have potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, with particular action in the prostate and other male endocrine organ.Extracts of the small flowered willow plant have been shown to destroy prostate cancer cells in vitro, and when combined with lycopene and other herbs, a 3 month course of supplementation may reduce symptoms of BPH.

Nettle Leaf (Urtica dioica)

High levels of the hormone, dehydrotestosterone (DHT), have been linked to both BPH and prostate cancer. Nettle leaf is known as an “anti-androgen” - it blocks the conversion of free testosterone to the prostate-antagonising DHT. As well as supporting sperm health and testosterone levels in animal models, the anti-androgen action of nettle leaf extract has been shown to promote destruction of tumour cells in the human prostate and may reduce the risk of BPH.

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References

NIH Publication No. 14-3012 (2014) Prostate Enlargement: Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia. https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/health-topics/urologic-disease/benign-prostatic-hyperplasia-bph/Pages/facts.aspx

Pinggera, G. M & Frauscher, F. (2016) Do we really need herbal medicine in LUTS/BPH treatment in the 21st century? Expert Opin Drug Saf., 5, 1 – 3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27461908

Antwi, S. O., et al. (2016) Carotenoid Intake and Adipose Tissue Carotenoid Levels in Relation to Prostate Cancer Aggressiveness among African-American and European-American Men in the North Carolina-Louisiana Prostate Cancer Project (PcaP). Prostate, 76:12, 1053 – 1066. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5080909/

Minutoli, L., et al. (2014) Inhibitors of apoptosis proteins in experimental benign prostatic hyperplasia: effects of serenoa repens, selenium and lycopene. J Biomed Sci., 21:1, 19. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3995880/

Latil, A., et al. (2015) Effects of hexanic extract of Serenoa repens (Permixon® 160 mg) on inflammation biomarkers in the treatment of lower urinary tract symptoms related to benign prostatic hyperplasia. Prostate, 75:16, 1857 – 1867. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26306400

Ju, X. B., et al. (2015) Efficacy and safety of Saw Palmetto Extract Capsules in the treatment of benign prostatic hyperplasia. Zhonghua Nan Ke Xue, 21:12, 1098 – 1101. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26817302

Zaorsky, N. G., et al. (2016) Men's health supplement use and outcomes in men receiving definitive intensity-modulated radiation therapy for localized prostate cancer. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, ePub. http://www.ajcn.org/cgi/pmidlookup?view=long&pmid=27797706

Pagano, E., Laudato, M., Griffo, M. & Capasso, R. (2014) Phytotherapy of benign prostatic hyperplasia. A minireview. Phytotherapy Research, 28:7, 949 – 955. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25165780

Damiano, R., et al. (2016) The role of Cucurbita pepo in the management of patients affected by lower urinary tract symptoms due to benign prostatic hyperplasia: A narrative review. Arch Ital Urol Adrol., 88:2, 136 – 143. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27377091

Medjakovic, S., et al. (2016) Pumpkin seed extract: Cell growth inhibition of hyperplastic and cancer cells, independent of steroid hormone receptors. Fitoterapia, 110, 150 – 156. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26976217

Hevesi, B. T., Houghton, P. J., Habtemariam, S. & Kery, A. (2009) Antioxidant and antiinflammatory effect of Epilobium parviflorum Schreb. Phytotherapy Research, 23:5, 719 – 724. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19107731

Stolarczyk, M., Naruszewicz, M. & Kiss, A. K. (2013) Extracts from Epilobium sp. herbs induce apoptosis in human hormone-dependent prostate cancer cells by activating the mitochondrial pathway. J Pharm Pharmacol., 65:7, 1044 – 1054. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23738732

Coulson, S.,, et al. (2013) A phase II randomised double-blind placebo-controlled clinical trial investigating the efficacy and safety of ProstateEZE Max: a herbal medicine preparation for the management of symptoms of benign prostatic hypertrophy. Complementary Ther Med., 21:3, 172 – 179. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23642948

Jalili, C., Salahshoor, M. R. & Naseri, A. (2014) Protective effect of Urtica dioica L against nicotine-induced damage on sperm parameters, testosterone and testis tissue in mice. Iran J Reprod Med., 12:6, 401 – 408. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/pmid/25071848/

Mohammadi, A., et al. (2016) Urtica dioica dichloromethane extract induce apoptosis from intrinsic pathway on human prostatecancer cells (PC3). Cell Mol Biol., 62:3, 78 – 83. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27064877

Moradi, H. R., et al. (2015) The histological and histometrical effects of Urtica dioica extract on rat’s prostate hyperplasia. Vet Res Forum., 6:1, 23 – 29. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4405682/

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