Most men never think about prostate health until their prostate starts acting up. Prevention strategies include eating plenty of cruciferous vegetables.
Are you aware that September 14 to 20 marks Prostate Awareness Week in Canada? If not, you’re not alone.
Most men never think about their prostate until it starts acting up. According to a nation-wide survey in 2007, only half of all middle-aged men in Canada have discussed prostate disease with their doctors.
Prostate problems, such as benign prostatic hyperplasia (prostate swelling), prostatitis (inflammation and/or infection), and frequent nighttime urination, are hard enough to contend with, but what’s more concerning is that prostate cancer is the most common cancer in Canadian men and is diagnosed at the same rate as breast cancer is in Canadian women.
Testosterone Not the Culprit
When it comes to prostate disease, the common belief is that prostate growth and cancer is fuelled by testosterone, but numerous studies indicate that estrogen, not testosterone, may actually be the culprit.
This makes sense, as all men lose testosterone as they age, all the while gaining estrogen–especially estradiol, the most powerful of the estrogens. Many research studies back this assumption, including a 2005 study from the University of Chicago which showed that testosterone is able to induce death to prostate tumours, while estradiol is essential for initiating their growth.
Another study from the Harvard Medical School looked at the association of free and total testosterone to prostate disease and cancer concluding that no correlation exists between testosterone (both free and total) and prostate cancer. The study also showed that low–not high—serum-free testosterone may be a marker for more aggressive disease.
Lower Estrogen Levels
One of the best ways to reduce excess harmful estrogens is to consume plenty of cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, kale, Brussels sprouts). Researchers from Cancer Care Ontario report that consuming more than one serving of broccoli and cauliflower a week may reduce prostate cancer risk by 45 percent.
This is probably due to a group of powerful phytonutrients called indoles, the most powerful of which is indole-3-carbinol which has been shown in studies to help stimulate enzymes that weaken powerful estrogens, block carcinogens from entering prostate cells, and initiate the self-destruction mechanism in prostate cancer cells.
Also important for prostate health is reducing inflammation. Lowering consumption of omega-6 fatty acids (vegetable oils, high-fat meats, dairy products, eggs, and shellfish) and increasing intake of omega-3 fatty acids (flaxseeds, hempseeds, walnuts, salmon, mackerel, tuna, and krill) have been shown to greatly reduce prostate cancer tumour growth rates.
Now you’re prostate-aware!