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Prostate health: what protection do nutrition and physical activity provide?

Published: December 13, 2019

Green leafy vegetables contain beneficial phytochemicals
Green leafy vegetables contain beneficial phytochemicals

Prostate cancer is the 2nd most prevalent cancer in men and the leading cause of death in older men.

Approximately 75% of men over the age of 85 years, and 50% of men over the age of 50 will have prostate cancer, although it may not be diagnosed.
However, only about 3.5% of men will die from cancers as many prostate cancers are not life threatening being indolent (slow developing).
Worldwide, 68% of prostate cancers appear to occur in developed countries which may be a reflection of prostate cancer screening programs typically less available in developing countries.
Your risk for prostate cancer increases if you are:

  • male over the age of 50
  • your brother, father or son has been diagnosed with prostate cancer
  • you are of African descent
  • a biopsy indicates you have a high grade prostatic intraepithelial neooplatia (PIN): abnormalities in the epithelial cells of your prostate gland.

Prostate cancer is not the only common prostate condition that can effect men’s health.

The prostate gland is normally about the size of a walnut situated at the base of your bladder. Its function is to store and secrete semen into the urethra.
As men age the prostate gland increases in size: a condition that is known as benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). This condition is also genetic with men of African and Hispanic descent at higher risk.
The increase in size is due to an increase in prostate cells which are non-malignant.
Enlargement causes the prostate gland to press on your urethra (tube from your bladder) which makes urination urgent and painful.
Not all men will experience extreme discomfort, but for some quality of life is dramatically negatively impacted, disrupting activities of daily living for fear of lack of toilet facilities.
The need to urinate also disturbs sleep cycles (nocturia) which also has negative health consequences. BPH can also cause erectile difficulties, bladder infection and failure, and kidney failure.
Diagnosis and treatment
Indicators of prostatic disease include:

  • increased frequency or need to urinate, especially at night
  • sudden urge to urinate
  • changes in urine flow: weak, interrupted, difficulty starting or stopping
  • blood in urine or semen
  • painful uriination, persisting back, hip and pelvic pain

If you are suffering from any of these symptoms it is essential that you seek medical advice so that your condition can be diagnosed and treated.

The PSA test is a diagnostic and screening tool used to identify prostate cancer. However, PSA levels may be increased in men who do not...link to the full article to learn more.


Gropper, S.S., Smith, J.L. & Groff, J.L. (2005). Advanced Nutrition and Human Metabolism (4thEd.). Belmont, CA: Thomson Wadsworth.
Whitney, E. & Rady Rolfes, S. (2005). Understanding Nutrition. Belmont, CA: Thomson Wadsworth
Campbell et al. (1999). Biology (5th Ed). Menlo Park, CA. Addison Wesley Longman Inc.
Centre for Science in the Public Interest (July/august 2010, April 2012, June 2012, June 2009, June 2015, Jan/Feb 2010, June 2011, April 2011, August 2011, April 2014, April 2008, May 2015, January/February 2013, September 2013)