The prostate gland is a structure found in the male reproductive system. It is roughly the size of a walnut and is located between the bladder and the penis, with the urethra running through the center of the prostate. The prostate has a number of important functions; mainly, it is responsible for producing a fluid that protects and nourishes sperm, while extending its lifetime and keeping semen fluid. This same protective fluid also helps in ensuring that the sperms cells reach the egg cell.
There are four known prostate conditions or disorders: Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH), otherwise known as an enlarged prostate; prostatitis or inflammation/infection of the prostate; prostatodynia or chronic pelvic pain syndrome (CPPS); and prostate cancer. Of the four, only prostate cancer can be life-threatening.
According to the American Cancer Society, prostate cancer is the second most common non-skin cancer and is the second-leading cause of cancer deaths in men. It is a disease in which malignant cancer cells form in the prostate gland’s tissue. All men are at risk of developing this cancer; in fact, statistics show that 1 in 6 men will be affected by the disease though only 1 in 36 males will die because of it. It is a slow-developing cancer that often exhibits little to no symptoms.
While factors such as age, diet, ethnicity, family history orgenetics, and geography contribute to and heighten the risk of a man to develop the cancer, its causes have yet to be determined. Nevertheless, there are a number of things one can do to possibly prevent the cancer or reduce one’s risk.
A healthy diet and lifestyle. Cut down on fried food and increase your fruit and vegetable intake (aim for 5-9 servings a day). Prostate cancer is a hormone-based disease and meat is known to contain high levels of hormone-disrupting chemicals so it would be wise to lower your meet consumption, too. Concentrate on fruits and vegetables that are rich in lycopene (e.g. tomatoes, grapefruit) as lycopene is an antioxidant that destroys free radicals.
Regular exercise or leading an active lifestyle boosts the immune system, improves circulation, increases energy levels and helps in preventing diseases. Maintaining a healthy weight is also very beneficial as prostate cancer has been shown to be more prevalent among obese or overweight men.
Practicing safe sex and avoiding sexually-transmitted diseases. Diseases (e.g. chlamydia, gonorrhea) that cause inflammation of the prostate poses a major threat and is a risk factor for prostate cancer.
Vitamin supplements. Taking a daily vitamin E supplement is helpful in preventing prostate cancer as vitamin E is an antioxidant that may decrease DNA damage when taken regularly. Other recommended daily supplements for prostate protection are vitamin A, C, and D.