Mainstream medicine is often concerned with how to treat BPH, but here at Digital Nomad Health, we ask how to prevent BPH. Preventing Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia is our main concern, and treating it is secondary.
Causes of BPH
Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia seems to happen due to changes in hormone levels and inflammation. The following are associated with but may not directly cause enlargement of this gland.
Whether it’s the hormone imbalance due to excess estrogen in men as their weight increases or the inflammation caused by obesity, we know that those with obesity develop larger prostates.
Maintaining a healthy body composition can decrease the risk of developing BPH.
The reason we mention aging is that here at DNH, we are proactive about chronic disease prevention. Prevention requires early intervention. If our patients waited until their 50s to address BPH, they might miss the opportunity to intervene early.
3. Elevated DHT
Dihydrotestosterone goes up with age as testosterone decreases in men. Elevated DHT levels are associated with prostatic enlargement.
It’s not just the levels of these hormones that matter but the receptors for these hormones all over the body. That’s why hormone balance is a science and shouldn’t just be a blood test.
Excess estrogen production may increase DHT while decreasing testosterone. Maintaining a healthy balance through diet and supplements may help regulate this hormone better.
4. Family History
To prevent BPH, it’s important to know your family history. If hardly anyone in your family has had BPH and you’re living a similar lifestyle as your ancestors, the chance of BPH is drastically reduced.
5. High Fat/Red Meat Intake
For some individuals, excess saturated fat and red meat intake may be inflammatory and cause a hormone imbalance with a rise in estrogen.
This isn’t to say that saturated fat or red meat are bad. In fact, for the right individuals, these can be part of a healthy, balanced diet.
We have patients in our practice who are rather carnivorous, while we also have those who follow a mostly plant-based diet. Fortunately, it’s easy to tell if our diet is helping us or harming us.
6. Sedentary Lifestyle
Perhaps due to inflammation or oxidative stress, a sedentary lifestyle may contribute to prostate enlargement. And there is good data to show that regular exercise can help prevent BPH.
7. Heart Disease
This is likely an association for those who might already suffer from inflammation and hence develop both heart disease and damage to the prostatic tissue.
Elevated blood pressure is linked to worsening BPH symptoms and, perhaps, actual enlargement of the tissue.
Chronically elevated blood sugars or even major sugar spikes after certain meals may manipulate insulin-like growth factor (IGF-1) and sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG), which may lead to prostatic enlargement.
Preventing BPH requires good blood sugar control. For our diabetic patients, we don’t aim for perfection, but we want to avoid the spikes past 180, which seem to be the most detrimental.
We take medications seriously here at DNH. NSAIDs such as ibuprofen, PPIs such as omeprazole, and antihistamines such as Benadryl aren’t benign OTC medications. We believe they should be taken cautiously, and our patients are encouraged to monitor how they react to the medications closely.
Antihistamines are culprits in urinary retention and could potentially cause enlargement of the prostate gland.