Does an Enlarged Prostate Increase the Risk of Prostate Cancer?

Results of a new meta-analysis and review suggest that the presence of benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) increases the risk of prostate and bladder cancer. The study evaluated both case-control studies (16 in total) and cohort studies (10 in total), and the findings are useful for clinicians and men for screening and prevention of these types of cancer.

BPH increases a man’s risk of prostate and bladder cancer

Overall, the researchers found that men with BPH had a 2.9 times greater incidence of prostate cancer and a 1.7 times greater incidence of bladder cancer. However, when the two types of studies were analyzed separately and other data were evaluated, the researchers made some other observations.

First of all, it’s best to understand the difference between these two types of studies. Case-control studies (aka, retrospective studies) examine data that already exists and attempts to identify risk factors for specific conditions. A limitation of such studies is an inability of reviewers to retrospectively gather missing information.

Cohort studies, on the other hand, are prospective, which means they are planned in advance and conducted over a future period of time. They are useful in investigating the causes of disease and links between risk factors and outcomes. Cohort studies are the “best available scientific method for measuring the effects of a suspected risk factor.”

What risks do men with BPH face?

With that in mind, here’s a breakdown of what the meta-analysis actually revealed when you summarize the findings from both studies:

  • The incidence of prostate cancer was 4 times higher among men with BPH based on case-control study data and 1.4 times higher according to cohort study data
  • The incidence of bladder cancer was greater by 5 times according to case-control data and 1.6 times based on cohort study data
  • Asian men who had BPH had six times the risk of developing prostate cancer compared with 1.5 times greater risk among white men with BPH
  • There’s increasing evidence that inflammation, metabolic syndrome, and hormones play a role in both BPH and prostate cancer
  • Residual urine may harm the lower urinary tract and extend a man’s exposure to excreted carcinogens

In addition, the authors pointed out that:

  • Quickly progressing BPH is associated with an elevated risk of prostate cancer and an increased chance that the cancer will be high grade
  • Numerous studies have linked metabolic syndrome with rapidly-growing BPH
  • High fluid intake is associated with a lower risk of bladder cancer
  • Because there are differences in the prevalence, prognosis and survival between white and Asian men who have prostate cancer, the authors noted it is “reasonable to suspect that the mechanism through which BPH contributes to prostate cancer may be different between populations.”

In conclusion, the authors pointed out that having BPH increases the risk of prostate and bladder cancer, especially among Asian men with BPH. They recommended that more “prospective studies with strict design” be conducted to confirm their findings.

How to support and maintain a healthy prostate

Men can support and maintain a healthy prostate every day by engaging in practical lifestyle habits and routines. For example:

  • Follow a natural, whole-food diet (organic whenever possible). Up to 90 percent of cancers of the prostate, colon, pancreas, and breast are associated with food choices.
  • Choose plant protein over animal protein. The World Health Organization has stated that “diets high in red meat, dairy products, and animal fat have frequently been implicated in the development of prostate cancer.”
  • Include foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids regularly in your diet. These healthy fats can help reduce the risk of prostate cancer.
  • Avoid exposure to xenoestrogens, which can be found in personal care products, plastics and plastic containers, pesticides, carpeting, fiberboard, computers and printers, and other common items
  • Adopt healthy habits, such as not smoking limiting or avoid alcohol, practicing safe sex (and having sex often), getting 7 to 8 hours of sleep nightly, and staying hydrated (pure water and green tea are recommended)
  • Maintain a healthy weight. Studies show a link between being overweight and a higher risk of prostate cancer
  • Practice stress management daily. Chronic or long-term stress can weaken the immune system and throw your hormones out of balance.
  • Maintain a healthy hormone balance by keeping your estrogen and testosterone in balance. An excess of estrogen can promote BPH as well as prostate cancer.
  • Engage in regular aerobic and strength exercises. Exercise has a preventive effect on inflammation, BPH, and prostatitis and also can help slow the spread of aggressive prostate cancer
  • Avoid foods and additives that can harm the prostate, including meat, foods high in sugar (including high fructose corn syrup), soy (except fermented soy), excess calcium, and chondroitin
  • Consider natural supplements, such as omega-3 fish oil, beta sitosterol, cranberry, curcumin, DIM, green tea extract, pollen, Pygeum africanum, quercetin, saw palmetto, stinging nettle root, vitamin D, and zinc.

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