The prostate gland is the male reproductive system responsible for the production of fluid for semen, which transports sperm. It is located in the front of the rectum below the bladder, and is about the size of a walnut. As a man ages, the prostate enlarges and can restrict the flow of urine in the urethra. If this happens, it could be classified as BPH (Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia), prostatitus or cancer.
BPH has been affecting men since the 15th century. As a child, the prostate is the size of a marble; around puberty it becomes the size of a ping-pong ball. In the 30s and 40s, it begins to grow again. By the age of 40-59, 60 percent of men have BPH. By age 80, 90 percent of men have it.
What are the Symptoms?
- Having to strain to start urinating
- A weak stream
- Starting and stopping
- Frequent urination
- Urgent signals
- Nighttime urination
- Urine still in the bladder
The Prostate-Specific antigen (PSA) is a protein produced by cells of the prostate gland, and the PSA test measures the level of PSA in the blood. When higher than normal levels of PSA are detected, it is believed that cancer is present. This test has been highly criticized and deemed useless by multiple sources. Stanford scientists studied prostate tissues collected in the 20 years since a high PSA test result became the standard for prostate removal. They concluded that as a screen, the test indicates nothing more than the size of the prostate gland. The United States Preventative Services Task Froce (USPSTF) issued new draft guidelines regarding PSA screening and gave the PSA test a “D” noting that there is moderate to high certainty that the service has no benefit. According to Dr. Julian Whitaker, M.D., “the common perception that PSA-based early detection of prostate cancer prolongs lives is not supported by the scientific evidence.”
Vitamin A and Prostate Cancer
Scientists in one controlled study administered (to rats) doses of cyproterone acetate, an anti-androgen, and testosterone proprionate, followed by N-methyl-N-nitrosourea, a carcinogen, with one group treated with large doses of vitamin A. The incidence of prostate cancer in the group not treated with vitamin A was 65 percent, while only 18 percent and 20 percent of vitamin A-treated rats experienced dorsolateral and anterior prostate cancer, respectively.1
Zinc and Prostate Cancer
The Major Ways Men have Become Zinc Deficient
- Men have been told to avoid red meat and eggs because of saturated fat and cholesterol. Both are excellent sources of zinc; however, the meat needs to be grass-fed and the eggs need to come from chickens given a semi-wild diet.
- Men have been told to avoid salt because it causes high blood pressure. This refers to refined salt — not sea salt — which contains numerous minerals including zinc, and does not effect blood pressure when magnesium, potassium and calcium are sufficient.
- Our oceans have become too polluted for a consistent supply of fish in our diet, especially oysters, a major source of zinc.
- For years, Americans have been told to eat 6-11 servings of grains daily that are improperly prepared. This has led to a diet high in phytic acid, which blocks zinc absorption, inflammation, high blood sugar and insulin resistance.
- Non-organic foods from soils deficient in zinc has compounded the problem of zinc deficiency.
- Xenoestrogens have plagued the reproductive systems of men and women and are a major reason to avoid all chemically-grown food.
Semen, the secretion product of the prostate gland, contains large amounts of zinc and the prostate gland concentrates this nutrient. In animal studies, zinc deficiency results in complete sterility. In addition, zinc is a cofactor in many reactions involving our immune system. Zinc deficiency is often associated with immune dysfunction, resulting in a number of disease conditions, from chronic viral infections to cancer. Zinc deficiency is also related to prostate enlargement. Many researchers believe that chronic zinc deficiency results in gradual enlargement of the prostate in much the same way that chronic iodine deficiency results in enlargement of the thyroid gland.
The best dietary sources of zinc are grass-fed red meat and seafood, especially oysters. Other animal foods include wild salmon, sardines and herring, butter from pastured cows and eggs (particularly the yolks) from pastured chickens. An important source of zinc is unrefined sea salt, another commodity that has disappeared from the American diet during the past 50 years. When salt is refined, most of its minerals, including zinc, are removed. Today, the typical American male will never eat any salt in his whole life that contains even a trace of this valuable mineral. Nutritionists have been relatively successful in spreading the word about the dangers of refined sugar, but few voices warn us about an equally severe problem of mineral deficiencies caused by the consumption of refined salt. We strongly encourage all our clients to use Celtic sea salt exclusively for all their cooking, as this is one of the few commercially available salts that still has its full complement of minerals, including valuable zinc.
Fertility (Male and Soil) and the Prostate
Other issues affecting the health of the American male have yet to receive the same national attention. For example, the average sperm count of today’s adult male is about 50 percent lower than it was 50 years ago. Infertility rates among American couples now approach 25 percent, a heartbreaking situation that can be partially explained by lower sperm counts and decreased viability of the sperm. These changes parallel the findings seen in other mammalian species, including lowered fertility rates, decreased sperm counts and anatomical changes in the male reproductive organs. Clearly, environmental changes that have accelerated during the past 40 to 50 years affect the reproductive health of males of different species.
Another cause, one far less discussed is the decline in our soils over the last 80 years. The decline in soil fertility translates into lower mineral content in our food, and the substitution of vegetables oils for animal fats has robbed the developing male of the fat-soluble vitamins (vitamins A and D) that he needs to make testosterone out of cholesterol. In addition, the vegetable oils are invariably rancid, causing irritations and inflammation in the arteries. The trans fats in margarines and shortenings used in processed foods also interfere with the production of testosterone.
Foods to Avoid
In addition to incorporating certain nutrient-dense foods in the diet, men should also avoid consumption of foods fortified with iron. Most men have no need for any more iron than that which occurs naturally in food. Consumption of iron-fortified foods, or of supplements containing iron, can cause a toxic overload and contribute to heart disease, liver disease and perhaps even cancer–numerous studies have shown a relationship between high iron levels and increased cancer incidence. Avoid all processed foods, vegetables oils, white flour products (“fortified” with inorganic iron) and extruded grain products. Cold whole-grain breakfast cereals made by the extrusion process not only contain rancid vegetables oils, but also are high in phytic acid, an organic acid that blocks zinc. All grain products must be properly soaked to neutralize phytic acid. Avoid caffeine, soft drinks and chocolate which can stress the adrenal glands, ultimately affecting male potency.
The Prostate Protection Program
At around age 30, a man should begin a prostate protection program. A few easy steps can prevent a lot of issues later on!
Exercise: Walking is amazing for the prostate because it exercises muscles in the pelvic region that improves circulation to all the glands in the area.
Water: Drink water consistently throughout the day from a reverse osmosis system.
Diet: Maintain a high intake of fresh organic fruits and vegetables, eat grass-fed red meat, pastured eggs, salmon, herring, sardines, tuna (in moderation), soaked nuts and seeds.
Alcohol can wipe out zinc and B6. Everything in moderation!
Recommended Supplementation for BPH
Saw palmetto (serenoa repens) has been proven to relieve BPH. It inhibits the enzyme 5-alpha-reductase which converts testosterone to dihydro-testosterone and increases the uptake of DHT by the prostate exacerbating the problem. One study in Current Therapeutic Research of 505 patients who had mild to moderate symptoms were given 160mg of saw palmetto twice a day. After 90 days of treatment, 88 percent of patients and physicians considered the therapy successful. For the majority, the size of the prostate diminished.Beta-sitosterol is found in saw palmetto beans, pumpkin seeds and soybeans and has been thought to block hormone receptor sites on the prostate and can prevent the hormones from connecting and causing BPH. The prostate contains about ten times more zinc than any other organ. Contact Swanson Health Center for the Saw Palmetto product we recommend not available online.
Contains vitamin A, D and omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids are building blocks for prostaglandins. Prostaglandins work to control and regulate numerous hormones involved in the male organs. Adding these two has been shown to improve urinary symptoms and reduce the size of the prostate. Studies suggest that vitamin D may be of the best protections against prostate cancer.
A lack of zinc will show up as an enlarged prostate. Zinc needs to be in the soil to be in the food, and when processing and chemical fertilizers are used, zinc can be absent in the food. In traditional herbology, pumpkin seeds (high in zinc) have been eaten to treat and prevent BPH. A handful of seeds a day is a remedy in Bulgaria, Turkey and the Ukraine. Zinc inhibits 5-alpha-reductase but must have good levels of B6 for zinc to work.