Life Extension Update
Vegetables, beta-carotene, vitamin C associated with reduced risk of BPH
The February, 2006 issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition published the finding of researchers from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Pubic Health and Harvard University of a protective effect for vegetables, beta-carotene, lutein and vitamin C against benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). Benign prostatic hyperplasia is a common condition in older men which is associated with lower urinary tract symptoms that are believed to be caused by enlargement of the gland and increased prostate smooth muscle tone.
The study evaluated data from participants in the Health Professionals Follow Up Study of 51,529 dentists, veterinarians, pharmacists, optometrists, osteopathic physicians and podiatrists who were enrolled in 1986. Dietary questionnaires completed upon enrollment were analyzed for fruit and vegetable intake and nutritional content. Health questionnaires were mailed to participants every two years to obtain information on new diagnoses including whether they had undergone surgery for an enlarged prostate or had a high-moderate to severe American Urological Association symptom index score for BPH.
Of the 32,265 men who were eligible for the current study, there were 6,092 cases of BPH. After excluding men with low to moderate symptoms, 18,373 remained as non-cases. Although total consumption of fruit and vegetables had no significant association with BPH, the risk of the condition decreased with increased vegetable intake. Men whose intake of vegetables was in the top fifth of participants had an 11 percent lower risk of BPH than men whose intake was in the lowest fifth. Fruits and vegetables rich in beta-carotene, lutein, and those high in vitamin C were separately found to be similarly protective.
In their discussion of the findings, the authors write that oxidative damage is believed to be associated with the development of BPH, particularly during states of chronic inflammation, therefore antioxidant nutrients found in vegetables such as vitamin C may be protective. They conclude, “Our findings are consistent with the hypothesis that a diet rich in vegetables and in beta-carotene, lutein, and vitamin C derived from foods may reduce the occurrence of BPH.”
The current clinical philosophy concerning BPH is to postpone any form of surgery for as long as possible to avoid complications that may jeopardize the patient’s quality of life. Stopping the progression of prostate enlargement through diet and pharmacotherapy should be the first approaches in the treatment of BPH (Djavan B et al 2002; Schulman C 2001).
Specific lifestyle changes can reduce the symptoms associated with BPH. If you want to reduce symptoms associated with BPH:
To slow the natural progression of BPH and its symptoms, the Life Extension Foundation suggests that you have annual screenings, including a PSA test and a DRE. Neither of these tests can rule out prostate cancer; however, they can alert a physician to the need for further testing.
While benign prostate disease is not usually thought of as life threatening, the sleep disturbance it causes due to nighttime urinary urgency could very well increase mortality. That is because people who do not get enough sleep overproduce inflammatory cytokines that inflict damage to arteries, joints, bones, and neurons. So while benign prostate enlargement itself seldom kills, the chronic sleep deprivation it induces may very well hasten death.
Since people are now living longer than ever, delaying the manifestation of prostate cancer is desirable, but may not result in the disease being altogether prevented. The lead article in this month’s issue of Life Extension magazine is titled “Eating Your Way to Prostate Cancer.” This article describes a little-known pathological mechanism that explains why ingesting the wrong foods increases prostate cancer risk.
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