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Did you know that one man dies from prostate cancer every hour? I bet you were not aware of the fact that over 40,000 men are diagnosed with prostate cancer every year. It means that more than 100 men are diagnosed every day.
It is estimated that by 2030, prostate cancer will be the most common cancer in the world. One in eight men will be afflicted with prostate cancer
In Nigeria, every now and then you hear of someone who just died of prostate cancer. This disease occurs most frequently in elderly men of 72 years and above.
Although we are not keeping statistics for the number of new cases and deaths in Nigeria for this preventable disease, the American example is relevant for us because there are significant racial differences that are negative for the African male.
For example, for the African American male aged between 50 and 54 years, the incidence of prostate cancer is two times as high as the Caucasian American and it is one third higher for the African American of all ages.
For all Asian men, the incidence of this type of cancer is relatively low. It is not known what causes this racial difference, but genetics must surely play a part.
Diet is a major another factor that cannot be ruled out as African American food closely mimics many Nigerian diets of pork, beans and greens cooked with plenty of oil and fat. This is, therefore, a Black man’s disease that Nigerian men should be concerned about.
The prostate gland is a walnut-sized organ located under the bladder, surrounding the urinary tract of men. It secretes a fluid that forms part of the seminal fluid, which is part of the semen produced at ejaculation after intercourse.
Prostate cancer is primarily a disease of the aged. So as men age, they should take note of the following symptoms and if they have them, they should definitely pay a visit to a doctor.
Slow urination: Men should take this symptom seriously, especially when the last few drops do not expel easily. You should also let the doctor check you out if you notice any change in urination as described below:
Frequent urination is another symptom of prostate cancer. Other symptoms include:
1. Nocturia, which is passing urine in the night.
2. Difficulty in passing urine, termed Hesitancy.
3. Reduced force of urination.
4. Reduced projectile pressure of urine (ejaculatory pressure).
5. Blood in the urine.
What causes the prostate to enlarge
Aging, stress, chemical toxins that may be from the use of chemical products like dye, polluted water, and contaminated food, especially with heavy metals; genetics and infection have been identified as some of the factors that can lead to the enlargement of the prostate gland. With aging, there are hormonal changes associated with getting older, such as decreased production of the male testosterone, prolactin ad stress- related hormone will increase with age.
High prolactin level in the blood will lead to an increase in the uptake of testosterone in the prostate gland, which will result in the production of another male hormone called Di-Hydro-testoterone.
High levels of DHT in the prostate gland will enlarge the prostate. A stressful lifestyle also does not help the prostate. This will usually cause an increase in the level of circulating prolactin hormone.
The net result is elevated DHT and subsequent prostate enlargement. Prostate cancer is highly related to genetic factors, if one of the families has had prostate cancer, it is highly likely that other male members of the family will get it.
Frequent exposure to pesticides used on food crops and those used in our homes can expose men to cancer.
We also eat crops which contain pesticide that contain the chemical polychlorinated hydrocarbon, which accumulates in organs like the adrenals, the liver and the prostate and then, become diseased.
Cancerous toxins also exist in some food products, such as fruits and vegetables, large fish and stock fish from polluted fish farms.
Apart from narrowing the urethral passage and reducing sperm count, frequent sexually transmitted diseases from sexually active men may lead to prostate enlargement or cancer.
Eating a diet full of saturated fats and red meat is said to be bad for the prostate as is smoking cigarettes and drinking alcohol.
Tobacco contains cadmium, which is a heavy metal that increases the activities of 5-alpha reductase enzyme. The enzyme converts testosterone to the active form called DHT, which is responsible for the abnormal enlargement of the prostate gland.
Alcohol increases the level of the prolactin hormone. This will increase the level of testosterone intake by the prostate gland, which eventually leads to its enlargement.
How to prevent prostate problems
Early diagnosis by rectal examination at the doctor’s clinic can be very helpful in detecting prostate enlargement. More recently, a very sensitive test has been put in place for early detection of prostate enlargement by checking the level of a substance called Prostate Specific Antigen, which can give an indication of an overactive prostate.
High PSA levels might give a clue to likely prostate problems. It is recommended that one should have a medical examination annually to rule out prostate enlargement.
Men are advised to take multivitamins that contain extra zinc along with Vitamins C, D and E, which are rich in antioxidants. Zinc is good for the prostrate because it is required in the normal functioning of the gland. Prostate secretion contains a high quantity of zinc.
Zinc removes the toxin cadmium and also inhibits the secretion of 5-alpha reductase, which is a toxin. A clinical trial dose of 150mg of zinc daily for two months and subsequent 50-150mg per day has recorded a 74 per cent success in treating abnormal enlargement of the prostate.
Prostate cancer patients have low levels of Lycopene. Lycopene is one of the major carotenoids present in light yellow or deep red fruits and aid the absorption of Vitamin A, which is a powerful antioxidant. Lycopene is found in fresh tomatoes, tomato sauces and pastes as well as in watermelon.
There is a growing amount of data supporting the claim that a diet rich in lycopene may help to prevent various chronic diseases, including cancers of the lungs and prostrate. Other non-prescription alternatives for benign prostrate enlargements are the mineral saw palmetto, a handful of pumpkin seeds chewed once a week, drinking plenty of water and eating a diet high in fibre.
As men grow older, they can actively take care of their health and safeguard against prostate cancer by eating a diet high in fibre. Fibre binds to testosterone and eliminates it from the system.
They can also reduce the cholesterol in their diets by reducing saturated fatty acid found in palm oil and groundnut. Instead, men should increase their consumption of Omega 3 essential fatty acids from such sources as cod liver oil, geisha, mackerel and when available, salmon.
Written by: Prof. Oladapo Ashiru for PUNCH.