Understanding Prostate Conditions in Men
Second only to heart disease, the prostate is the greatest source of health complications in men as they age.
Causes of Prostate Conditions
Prostate conditions take three primary forms:
- Enlarged prostate (also known as Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia, or BPH).
- Prostatitis, which is essentially an infected prostate.
- Prostate cancer.
80% of men will experience some enlargement of the prostate as they age. The most common symptom is frequent urination, which can be annoying at night.
Prostatitis usually starts with a simple bacterial infection. The challenge with prostatitis is that the prostate is wrapped in a cellular sheath that can make treatment with antibiotics challenging. There is also a non-bacterial form of prostatitis, which tends to be chronic.
Most prostate cancers grow slowly, and can go undetected for long periods of time. There are, however, less common types of prostate cancer that are more aggressive. Current studies show that somewhere between 7 and 9 out of every 10 men will have prostate cancer by age 80, but that prostate cancer will not be the cause of death in most of these men.
Whether or not a man will develop prostate cancer is driven by 3 primary factors:
- Lifestyle (especially diet and stress)
- Excess estrogen
- Testosterone does not cause prostate cancer. Studies have shown that healthy levels of testosterone actually help prevent prostate cancer.
- Excess estrogen increases prostate cancer risk. This is why our doctors always manage estrogen levels.
- Some of the testosterone in a man’s body converts to a stronger form of testosterone known as DHT. Excess DHT, particularly when mixed with estrogen, can contribute to BPH. But DHT is important for a number of other reasons—in particular it’s the hormone that fuels a man’s sex drive.
- In treating BPH, some doctors will use drugs that restrict the conversion of testosterone to DHT. The problem with these medications is that men wind up having to choose between relieving their symptoms of BPH and their need for a sex drive. What we find particularly alarming is that some men lose their sex drive permanently as a consequence of using these medications. This is why our doctors will not prescribe them.
Testosterone and Estrogen
The balance between testosterone and estrogen is critical. Healthy men have a lot of testosterone and just a little estrogen. That small amount of estrogen is important for heart and bone health, but too much can increase prostate cancer risk. How does a man wind up with too much estrogen? As men get older, particularly if they carry belly fat, testosterone gets broken down into estrogen faster than it should.
One of the estrogen hormones produced in the body is called estrone. When estrone is metabolized, it can take one of two “safe” pathways: 1) it can be converted to 2-alpha-hydroxylestrone and safely pass from the body, or 2) it can convert to 16-alpha-hydroxyl and pass safely from the body.
When estrogen is the cause of prostate cancer, it can be because 16-alpha-hydroxyl has metabolized to something called 4-alpha-hydroxyl, which is a carcinogen.
The control of estrogen, and supporting metabolization of estrone along the 2-alpha-hydroxyl pathway, are critically important in the prevention of prostate cancer.
Preventing Prostate Conditions
When it comes to prostate conditions, the name of the game is prevention. The best way to prevent prostate conditions in general, and prostate cancer in particular, is by restoring hormones to healthy levels, and by practicing good lifestyle habits.
We take prostate health very seriously, which is why we do the following:
- We encourage our clients to achieve good lifestyle habits. This alone will go a long way toward preventing and alleviating prostate conditions.
- If necessary, our doctors control the conversion of testosterone to estrogen by way of an estrogen blocker.
- We encourage our clients to take supplements that have been shown to reduce prostate cancer risk by supporting the metabolization of estrogen along the 2-alpha-hydroxyl pathway.
Prostate health is just one more piece of the better aging puzzle. If your prostate hasn’t given you trouble to this point, let’s keep it that way. If you’ve already had some issues, we’ll talk about solutions. Let’s be proactive together.