Prostate health: What every man should know

Men, how many times did you get up and go to the bathroom last night?

Does it seem to be getting worse?

Have you had your prostate checked recently?

The prostate gland is a small, but vital part of a man's reproductive system. It is about the size of a walnut and sits under the bladder, surrounding the urethra. When it is enlarged or inflamed, it can restrict the flow of urine from the bladder. The result is that you feel like you have to urinate more often, but with a less forceful stream of urine. These symptoms may be caused by an infected prostate, benign prostatic hypertrophy (BPH) or prostate cancer. If you have any of these symptoms, the most important thing you can do is see your doctor. BPH is a common, age-related enlargement of the prostate that occurs to some degree in all men. About 50% of men in their 60s and 90% in their 70s have symptoms of BPH.

So how do you keep your prostate healthy? Many studies on specific ingredients have shown great therapeutic effects on BPH and even cancer-preventive effects. In Europe, herbal treatments are the most popular prescriptions for BPH! Here's a brief list:

Saw Palmetto: Numerous placebo-controlled studies testing saw palmetto against standard drug treatments showed almost equal benefit. Fatty acids from saw palmetto reduce the production of 5-DHT (5-dihydrotestosterone), which causes prostate enlargement in BPH. Saw palmetto has been shown to improve urine flow, decrease nighttime urination frequency, and aid in complete bladder emptying in BPH.

Beta Sitosterol: This group of specific plant-derived chemicals has been found to improve BPH symptoms. Plant sterols such as these may even be the actual "prostate-active" ingredients in many herbal supplements.

Lycopene: This red-colored carotene, found in tomato products, has been shown to reduce the growth of prostate cancer cells.

Beta Glucan: This unique carbohydrate molecule is able to stimulate the immune system.

Zinc: Low zinc levels in the blood and prostate are linked to prostate cancer. Zinc has shown a protective effect against prostate cancer.

Selenium: Studies have shown selenium may reduce the risk of prostate cancer. 

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