– a condition where the prostate gland grows larger than usual and can cause problems with urination affecting up to 60% of men over the age of 40

In the realm of men’s health, one condition known as Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH)
stands out as both common and often misunderstood.

As men age, the prostate gland, situated beneath the bladder and surrounding the urethra,
can enlarge. When this is caused by BPH, it can block the urethra, leading to a host of
uncomfortable lower urinary tract symptoms (LUTS) – such as frequent urination – and other
infections. BPH can significantly impact quality of life. Recent research is shedding light on
the intricate relationship between diet, lifestyle factors, obesity and the development of BPH.

Ryan Snodgrass, CVS Product Manager for Pharma Dynamics, says BPH is particularly important
to discuss during Men’s Health Month this June, because it’s one of the most common health
issues affecting aging men.

“The Urology Care Foundation estimates that half of men between 51-60 years of age have
BPH, and up to 90% of men over 80 years have an enlarged prostate. This demographic shift
underscores the pressing need for a deeper understanding of the factors contributing to its

One crucial aspect gaining traction in research is the role of diet. Studies suggest that certain
dietary patterns may influence the risk of developing BPH. For instance, a diet rich in fruits,
vegetables and whole grains appears to be associated with a lower risk of BPH, possibly due
to the anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties of these foods. On the contrary, diets
high in red meat and saturated fats may elevate the risk, although the mechanisms behind
this correlation warrant further investigation.

Snodgrass says it’s not just about what we eat, but how much we eat that matters too.
“Obesity, fuelled by excessive caloric intake and sedentary lifestyles, has emerged as a
significant risk factor for BPH. Excess body weight contributes to hormonal imbalances,
inflammation and metabolic dysregulation, all of which can promote prostate growth.
Obesity also exacerbates other comorbidities like diabetes and hypertension, further
complicating the picture.”

Emerging evidence suggests that psychological stress may also play a role in the
development of BPH. Chronic stress triggers a cascade of hormonal responses that can
promote prostate enlargement. Stress often leads to unhealthy coping mechanisms, such as
overeating or alcohol abuse.

“Addressing BPH comprehensively requires a multifaceted approach that encompasses
dietary modifications, lifestyle changes and proactive management of comorbidities. Health
professionals advocate for a diet rich in plant-based foods, lean proteins and healthy fats,
while limiting processed foods and sugary beverages. Portion control and mindful eating can
help prevent overeating and maintain a healthy weight.

“Incorporating regular physical activity into daily routines is equally crucial. Whether it’s brisk
walking, swimming or cycling, aiming for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise
per week can confer significant benefits for prostate health. Additionally, stress management
techniques, such as meditation, yoga or deep breathing exercises can help mitigate the
negative impact of stress on the prostate gland.”

The most common symptoms of BPH are:

  • Frequent, sudden or urgent urge to urinate
  • Increased need to urinate during the night (nocturia)
  • Difficulty initiating urination
  • Experiencing strain or the need to push during urination
  • Weak or slow urine flow
  • Interrupted urination, needing to start and stop multiple times
  • Dribbling at the end of urination
  • Feeling like the bladder isn’t completely empty after urinating
  • Some degree of urine leakage or incontinence
  • Discomfort during urination or after ejaculation
  • Infrequent occurrence of blood in the urine (haematuria)
  • Occasional erectile dysfunction

For those already experiencing symptoms of BPH, medical interventions ranging from
medications to minimally invasive procedures are available to alleviate discomfort and
improve urinary function. However, Snodgrass emphasises that these interventions are most
effective when coupled with lifestyle modifications that address underlying risk factors.

“While benign prostatic hyperplasia may be a common affliction among aging men, it is by
no means an inevitable consequence of growing older. By adopting a proactive approach
to diet, lifestyle and stress management, men can significantly reduce their risk of developing
BPH and enjoy better prostate health well into their golden years.

“As research continues to unravel the complexities of this condition, empowering men with
knowledge and tools for prevention remains paramount,” he concludes.

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