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Preventative Prostate Health

With aging it is almost universal in men to have an enlarged prostate gland.  It is most commonly seen in men over the age of 40, and 50% of men over the age of 50 have enlarged prostates.  Although an enlarged prostate, or benign prostatic hypertrophy (BPH), may not cause men any difficulties in everyday functioning, often it can lead to problems with urination such as decrease in force of urination, sensation of incomplete voiding, increased frequency in urination, and dribbling of urine.

As men age, testosterone in the body is converted more into dihydrotestosterone (DHT) in the prostate which has a direct relation to increasing prostate size.  Simple blood tests and physical examination of the prostate can help naturopathic physicians determine if men have BPH or a more serious condition like prostate cancer.  Naturopathic modalities like botanical medicine, nutritional supplementation and acupuncture can all help men with this condition.

Although BPH is a rather benign condition, it has similar signs and symptoms to prostate cancer which may be a more serious diagnosis in men.  Like BPH, prostate cancer can be asymptomatic and it may not cause any problems in men until it is advanced in its progression.   However, it may also lead men to have urinary urgency, hesitancy, need to urinate during sleep, poor urinary stream, and dribbling.    Prostate cancer accounts for 70% of all male cancers and only lung cancer has a higher mortality rate.  Incidence also increases with age, with 80% of new cases occurring after 65 years of age.  It is important for men to begin screening for prostate cancer at age 50 and at 40 years in African-Americans or in men who have a family history of prostate cancer. To help naturopathic physicians screen for prostate cancer and other illness they may perform simple blood tests, a physical examination of the prostate, along with a Men’s Wellness Exam.

Prostatic Intraepithelial Neoplasia (PIN),  is a condition in which the cells on the prostate gland’s surface divide more rapidly than the rest of the prostate cells. Research shows that men diagnosed with PIN have a sharply increased risk of developing prostate cancer.  It has been postulated that there seems to be an inflammatory component to this condition that typically respond favorably to naturopathic treatments. Recent literature has shown that natural cyclooxygenase (COX) inhibitors, like Zyflamend, have been linked to decreasing the amount of inflammation in not only the body, but specifically the prostate gland itself, and thus helping to reverse PIN. Naturopathic physcians use tests like IgG Food Intolerance Testing and other tests designed to measure the amount of inflammation in your body and doing so can help them tailor individual anti-inflammatory diets and natural protocols to decrease this inflammatory process taking place.

Prostatitis is an inflammation of the prostate gland that can often lead to pain in the low back, abdomen or the pelvic region.  It can also lead to urinary difficulties like difficulty urinating, frequency and urgency of urination, and the need to urinate during sleep.  Prostatitis can be classified as either bacterial or non-bacterial prostatitis, often presenting with similar signs and symptoms.  Most conventional physicians believe that cases of prostatitis are of the bacterial form and treat prostatitis with broad spectrum antibiotics, like Ciprofloxacin.  What often occurs is that the symptoms of prostatitis and the general inflammation of the prostate are not made better by this treatment.  As most naturopathic physicians would agree, prostatitis is not caused by bacteria in the prostate but most frequently due to fungus, like Candida, in the prostate – hence why prostatitis is not alleviated by antibiotics.  In fact, it is estimated that prostatitis is of the non-bacterial form 95% of the time.  Naturopathic physicians use treatments like both natural and, if necessary, prescription anti-fungals, botanical medicine, and omega fatty acids to treat both the underlying infection and inflammation of the prostate causing the prostatitis.

Often times, food allergies over time can lead to the inflammation seen in prostatitis and can often exacerbate the underlying fungal infection occurring.  Therefore, naturopathic physicians can also perform a specialized IgG Food Intolerance Test to determine what foods you are sensitive to.  The reduction in consumption of these foods in conjunction with the aforementioned natural treatments can help to reduce the severity and the incidence of prostatitis.

Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) is a controversial, but informative blood laboratory test that is used to determine the degree of underlying inflammation occurring in the prostate gland.  While most conventional physicians would agree that only PSA values over 4.0 up to a level of 10.0 are indicative of serious prostate conditions, naturopathic physicians take a more cautious approach.  Naturopathic physicians believe that a PSA level of 1.0 or greater indicates some degree of chronic prostatitis and that even PSA levels from 0-4, what is considered “normal” amongst conventional doctors, could still potentially be prostate cancer. As PSA levels climb, the underlying inflammation and/or chronic infection becomes worse in the prostate and predisposes a man to developing prostate cancer later in life.  It is estimated that men with a PSA between 2 and 4 have a five to nine times greater incidence of developing prostate cancer within the next subsequent 10 years.  Therefore, naturopathic physicians work with you to not only screen for this underlying chronic inflammation that is occurring in the prostate but also to treat the underlying inflammation/infection using natural therapies described above.

    

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