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An analysis of eleven studies found that exercise reduces a man’s risk of developing benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) and lower urinary tract symptoms (LUTS). These findings are in line with those of previous research showing a relationship between BPH, LUTS, and risk factors of cardiovascular disease, which include components of metabolic syndrome: obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and glucose intolerance/diabetes. Exercise also has a positive impact on these cardiovascular risk factors.
Although previous studies have indicated that an increase in exercise is associated with a reduced risk of BPH and LUTS, the relationships have not been clearly defined. For example, some studies have indicated a greater reduction in risk associated with less exercise while others suggest more exercise is necessary.
How can exercise reduce risk of BPH?
To help clarify the relationships between exercise, BPH, and LUTS, investigators from the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine searched the literature from 1965 through 2007 for relevant cohort and case control studies. From a pool of hundreds of studies, 11 met the criteria and were analyzed.
Of the 11 studies, seven focused on BPH as the primary outcome, four focused on LUTS, and together they involved a total of 43,083 men. Overall, light exercise was associated with a nonsignificant trend toward a reduced risk of BPH and LUTS.
When the researchers analyzed the effect of moderate or vigorous exercise on BPH and LUTS, however, they saw a significant reduction in risk. When compared with a sedentary lifestyle, the researchers found that moderate to vigorous exercise may reduce the risk of BPH or LUTS by as much as 25 percent.
Based on their analysis, the investigators noted that it is likely exercise provides the beneficial effects of reduced risk of BPH and LUTS through an improvement in cardiovascular health, as data indicate cardiovascular disease may promote both BPH and LUTS, and exercise can have a positive effect on the risk factors for cardiovascular disease.
Therefore, exercise is a lifestyle choice men can make that can reduce their risk of BPH and LUTS, as well as have a positive impact on modifiable risk factors of cardiovascular disease.
Parsons JK, Kashefi C. Physical activity, benign prostatic hyperplasia, and lower urinary tract symptoms. European Urology 2008; 53: 1228-35