By Aisha Langford
DID YOU KNOW that September is National
Prostate Health Month? Although it’s not a topic that
men may be comfortable discussing, it’s vital to understand how to maintain prostate health and also how to
tell if problems are occurring.
The prostate is a walnut-size gland, located at
the origin of the urethra, the tube that carries urine
out of the body. General warning signs of prostate
problems include frequent or painful urination,
blood in the urine, a weak urine stream and pain in
the hips, back or thighs.
Here we take a look at three common prostate
conditions—prostate cancer, enlarged prostate and
prostatitis—and who’s at risk.
Prostate cancer is the second-leading cause of
cancer death for men, behind lung cancer. About one
in seven men will get prostate cancer during their lifetime. African-American men and men with a family
history of prostate cancer have a higher risk of developing the disease.
Fortunately, prostate cancer can be treated successfully when found early. Surgery and radiation
therapy are the most common treatments for localized
prostate cancer. Active surveillance, formerly called
watchful waiting, is also an option for men who don’t
want to get treatment right away.
Screening for prostate cancer includes a prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood test and a digital rectal
exam, in which the doctor feels the prostate for lumps
and abnormal changes. There are mixed opinions in
the medical community about whether all men should
get PSA testing because it may lead to unnecessary
biopsies and treatment. “The PSA blood test is not perfect, but it is one tool used to detect prostate cancer,”
says Dr. Stacy Loeb, a urologist at New York University.
Men should discuss the pros and cons of screening
with their doctor, then decide for themselves whether
it’s right for them.
When the prostate gland has grown bigger it is
referred to as an enlarged prostate, sometimes called
benign prostatic hyperplasia, or BPH. An enlarged
prostate occurs in most men as they age and can cause
urination problems because the prostate presses
against the urethra, the tube that allows urine to pass
from the bladder out of the body. An enlarged prostate
is not associated with prostate cancer and is typically
treated with medications first. Sometimes surgery is
used to treat an enlarged prostate.
Prostatitis occurs when there is swelling and
irritation of the prostate. An injury to the prostate or
inflammation can cause prostatitis, but it’s often the
result of a bacterial infection and treated with antibiotics. Prostatitis is less common than prostate cancer and enlarged prostate.
Who’s at risk?
Having a father or brother with prostate cancer
doubles the risk of a man having prostate cancer,
especially if a relative died from it and at a young age.
African-American men have a 60 percent higher
incidence of prostate cancer than Caucasian Americans
and are twice as likely to die from the disease.
Obesity increases the risk of advanced disease
and dying from prostate cancer. Working with your
doctor to take proactive steps can help prevent or
combat prostate problems.
“If you’re exercising, keeping your weight down,
eating fruits and vegetables, and eating less red meat,
some studies suggest that you may reduce your risk of
prostate cancer,” says Dr. J. Brantley Thrasher, a urologist at the University of Kansas Medical Center. C
Aisha Langford is a freelance writer with a background in public health.
The Costco Connection
Adult incontinence products and over-the-counter
and prescription medications for prostate health
are available in most Costco warehouses and on
Costco.com. Healthful fresh and prepared foods
are available at Costco warehouses.
for your health
1. Exercise, eat well and
maintain a healthy weight.
2. Drink lots of water to keep
your urinary tract healthy.
3. Perform Kegel exercises
for men: Squeeze and hold
the muscles used to urinate.
Kegel exercises make your
muscles stronger and reduce
1. Take testosterone pills
before having your hormone
levels checked by a qualified
2. Take prostate vitamins or
supplements without discussing with your doctor or pharmacist. They can interfere
with other medications.
3. Suffer in silence. Be open
with your doctor about
prostate problems and
IS THERE A prostate-cancer-prevention diet? Not exactly.
But there is a long list of
nutrients that have been
linked to decreasing the risk
and/or the progression of
cancer, although more proof
is still needed.
Among the nutrients
that have shown promising
results in studies to date:
• Soy protein
• Cruciferous vegetables
(e.g., broccoli and cabbage) and dark greens
• Tomatoes (lycopene)
• Vitamins A, D and E
• Red wine and dark
• Salmon and walnuts
(omega- 3 fatty acids)
• Beer hops
Being proactive for prevention