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The most aggressive form of prostate cancer is on the rise

It's never too early to protect your prostate

The latest study study release prostate cancer can only be described as “bleak”. Within just a decade, from 2004 to 2013, a 2016 Northwestern Medicine study found the number of new cases of metastatic prostate cancer to have risen by 72 percent.1 The release of the report, citing the biggest spike among men aged between 55 and 69, who saw a 92 percent increase in aggressive prostate cancer, led medical professionals and researchers to question: has the disease simply become more aggressive, or are we not doing enough to prevent and screen for it in the first place?

Protect your prostate

MEN’S HEALTH MATTERS

As we’re exploring the scientific factors that may contribute to such a marked increase in such a dangerous disease, we can’t ignore the fact that many societal factors could be at play. In Western countries, cultural norms for men and women have been passed down for centuries. Men are most often encouraged to be strong and silent.

This phenomenon may be something you have observed in personal relationships or in social settings, but research indicates this much is true. In 2016, Rutgers psychologists found that, not only are men less likely than women to visit their doctor, but they’re also less likely to be honest with their doctor about the symptoms they are experiencing. This specific group of researchers suggested that traditional beliefs about masculinity that lead men to ignore medical problems may be why men die earlier than women, on average.2,3

Mary Himmelstein, a doctoral student who participated in the study, explained, “Men have a cultural script that tells them they should be brave, self-reliant and tough. Women don’t have that script, so there isn’t any cultural message telling them that, to be real women, they should not make too much of illnesses and symptoms.”

Some of the most common sexual health issues that plague men are some of the conditions that are least likely to receive medical attention, including ailments relating to the prostate, erectile dysfunction and hormonal imbalance. While awareness for women’s health has made great strides, particularly in seeking support for sexual and reproductive health issues, there is still work to be done in providing the same care and encouragement for men.

For many men, something as small as the prostate, a walnut-sized gland that is a critical component of a man’s reproductive system, can be the straw that breaks the camel’s back. An unhealthy prostate can soon affect the health of the entire body, especially if aggressive and rapidly spreading prostate cancer is not detected early. As Robert Redfern, nutritionalist, author and broadcaster, sums up in his book Improving Men’s Health in 30 Days, “Maintaining a healthy prostate is essential to all men.”4

The 2016 study analysing the rise of aggressive prostate cancer uncovered the unpleasant reality we have just discussed. Men aren’t being given enough attention when it comes to their reproductive and sexual health. This may be why we are seeing a dramatically higher mortality rate associated with metastatic prostate cancer across-the-board, researchers say.

Whether it is cancer or another prostate concern, prostate health problems are only likely to get worse over time. They don’t go away on their own. Prostate conditions that may include enlarged prostate (benign prostatic hyperplasia, or BPH), prostatitis and prostate cancer can quickly begin to affect quality of life – causing pain and inflammation, increased frequency and difficulty in urination, and ultimately, sexual dysfunction. Let’s not forget that prostate cancer is increasingly common and remains a leading cause of cancer death, with the highest rates of prostate cancer found in the US among African- American men.4

THE LIGHT AT THE END OF THE TUNNEL

This talk of deadly cancer can be overwhelming, especially related to prostate health, but research has also provided us with some hope we can cling to.

Some prostate cancer is considered hereditary, like many other diseases, with the risk for prostate cancer doubled among brothers. A man who has both a father and a brother with prostate cancer may have a 14 percent increased risk of the most aggressive form. While genetics can come into play in determining health and lifespan, we also know that lifestyle factors can hold far more weight. University of Gothenburg researchers discovered in 2011 that, compared to genetics, lifestyle has the biggest impact on reaching an old age.5

These compelling findings complement the results of a 2007 study that put prostate cancer lifestyle factors under the microscope: Cancer Care Ontario researchers discovered that eating more cruciferous vegetables, like broccoli and cauliflower, could reduce the risk of aggressive prostate cancer.6

For men, there is truly nothing more therapeutic than eating a pro-prostate, anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer diet of really healthy foods at any age. Supplying your body with the essential nutrients it may be missing can tip the scales to bring prostate health back into balance, with the potential to provide even more protection against deadly disease. The anti-inflammatory spice compound curcumin, best taken along with super nutrients like Serrapeptase, Ecklonia Cava and vitamin D3, has been shown to slow the spread of malignant prostate cancer growth.7 Protective vitamins, minerals and herbs, like vitamin A, vitamin B6, vitamin D3, zinc, selenium, saw palmetto extract and nettle root, are known to support prostate health; saw palmetto has been used for centuries as a traditional folk remedy to relieve urinary issues caused by an enlarged prostate gland. “Nutritional therapy in the form of an anti-inflammatory diet and the appropriate supplementation are crucial components in strengthening the immune system, decreasing inflammation and winning the battle against prostate cancer – as well as BPH and prostatitis. Keep in mind, these conditions stem from inflammation too,” Redfern writes in his book. “The ways to ‘catch’ prostate cancer are one in the same. A cancer-promoting lifestyle compromises the immune system, creates inflammation and leads to cancer.”

The deadliest form of prostate cancer may be on the rise, but it doesn’t have to happen to you. The first step is simply talking about it – openly discussing your prostate health can bring you that much closer to relief. The next step is making practical lifestyle changes that have been proven to prevent disease. University of California, San Francisco, researchers discovered a decade ago that men with early stage prostate cancer who made major diet and lifestyle changes might stop or reverse the disease altogether.8 Now that’s something worth talking about.

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Sources

1. Weiner, A.B., Schaeffer, E.M. et al. 2016. Increasing incidence of metastatic prostate cancer in the United States. Prostate Cancer and Prostatic Diseases.

2. Himmelstein, M. S. and Sanchez, D. T. 2016. Masculinity in the doctor’s office: masculinity, gendered doctor preference and doctor-patient communication. Preventive Medicine. 84:34 DOI: 10.1016/j. ypmed.2015.12.008.

3. Himmelstein, M. S. and Sanchez, D. T. 2014. Masculinity impediments: Internalized masculinity contributes to healthcare avoidance in men and women. Journal of Health Psychology, DOI: 10.1177/1359105314551623.

4. Redfern, R. 2015. Improving Men’s Health in 30 Days. Naturally Healthy Publications. Print.

5. Wilhelmsen, L., Svärdsudd, K., Eriksson, H., Rosengren, A., Hansson, P.-O., Welin, C., Odén, A., Welin, L. 2010. Factors associated with reaching 90 years of age: a study of men born in 1913 in Gothenburg, Sweden. Journal of Internal Medicine, DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-2796.2010.02331.x.

6. Kirsh, V. A., Peters, U., Mayne, S. T., Subar, A. F., Chatterjee, N., Johnson, C. C. and Hayes, R. B. 2007 Aug. Prostate, lung, colorectal and ovarian cancer screening trial. Prospective study of fruit and vegetable intake and risk of prostate cancer. J Natl Cancer Inst. 1;99(15) pp 1200-9.

7. Killian, P. H., Kronski, E., Michalik, K., Barbieri, O., Astigiano, S., Sommerhoff, C. P., Pfeffer, U., Nerlich, A. G. and Bachmeier, B. E. 2012. Curcumin inhibits prostate cancer metastasis in vivo by targeting the inflammatory cytokines CXCL1 and -2. Carcinogenesis, DOI: 10.1093/carcin/bgs312.

8. Ornish, D., Weidner, G., Fair, W. R., Marlin, R., Pettengill, E. B., Raisin, C. J., Dunn-Emke, S., Crutchfield, L., Jacobs, F. N., Barnard, R. J., Aronson, W. J., McCormac, P., McKnight, D. J., Fein, J. D., Dnistrian, A. M., Weinstein, J., Ngo, T. H., Mendell, N. R. and Carroll, P. R. 2005 Sept. Intensive lifestyle changes may affect the progression of prostate cancer. J Urol. 174(3) pp 1065-9; discussion 1069-70.