You may be at an age where thoughts about the health of your prostate enter your mind once every never, but like a schnauzer nuzzling your pant leg for a Milk Bone, it'll eventually get your attention one way or another.
It may start to swell up as early as your forties, at which point you'll say goodbye to sleeping the whole night through without getting up to go to the bathroom. But regardless of whether it gives you any problems or not, your doctor will at some point start to nag you about adding a PSA test to your blood work so he or she can begin to monitor it, in case, you know, the big C.
The problem with that is, as I explained in The Truth About Prostate Testing, is that the PSA test itself is problematical. One task force concluded that you're 120-240 times more likely to be misdiagnosed as having prostate cancer from a positive PSA test and 40-80 times more likely to get unnecessary surgery or radiation than you are of having your life saved (1).
Another study concluded that,
"Harms associated with PSA-based screening and subsequent diagnostic evaluations are frequent, and moderate in severity... Common major harms include over-diagnosis and overtreatment, including infection, blood loss requiring transfusion, pneumonia, erectile dysfunction, and incontinence (2)."
Even the guy who discovered PSA, pathologist Richard J. Ablin, called the PSA test a "profit-driven public health disaster" because it's led to approximately 30 million American men being tested every year at a cost of at least 3 billion dollars.
Of course, these false positives, if they occur, are much more likely to happen when you're an old or semi-old coot. Even so, it'd be a good idea to at least start taking a little bit of preemptive care of the organ when you're still young. And for those who have already reached coot or semi-coot status, it's imperative that you start giving your prostate a little love now, and by that I mean some sensible, prostate-friendly dietary strategies.
Besides, most of the following foods also strengthen erections, so if prostate health isn't a concern of yours, let carnal self-interests guide you.
Prostate (and Erection) Supporting Foods
Here are five foods that you should be eating on a regular basis, all of which have been found to be helpful in freezing or lowering PSA levels:
Tomatoes contain lycopene, a powerful polyphenol that has, like all polyphenols, powerful anti-oxidant properties, but lycopene almost surely has some other potent, yet undiscovered mechanisms through which it lowers prostate cancer risk.
We know that lycopene is more absorbable through cooked tomatoes and tomato products like pastes and sauces. We also know that eating them with a little fat, like olive oil, further helps absorption.
But even raw tomatoes seem to help, as does pedestrian ketchup, regardless of whether it's green, purple, or red tomato ketchup, although the dark red variety has been shown to contain the most lycopene.
Try adding some sort of tomato product to your diet at least 4 to 5 times a week. Other than using a lot of ketchup, the easiest way to do this might be to just cut up a raw tomato into bite-size pieces, douse them with salt and olive oil, and munch on them as a pre-dinner appetizer.
Chinese epidemiologists, after scanning ten studies, found a stunning correlation between eating carrots and the rate of prostate cancer (3).
They found that the more often men ate carrots, and the greater the amount of carrots eaten (to a point), the less likely they were to get prostate cancer. They even came up with some definitive numbers: For every 10 grams of carrots consumed each day, men reduced their risk of developing prostate cancer by 5%.
That means that if men had at least 50 grams of carrots a day, their chances of developing prostate cancer could be cut in half. The researchers think it has something to do with the large amount of cancer-fighting carotenoids (including lycopene) found in carrots.
Sadly, doubling the amount of carrots eaten only goes so far. Increasing your carrot intake to 100 grams doesn't drop the chances of getting prostate cancer to zero, so don't suddenly think you figured out a way to cheat death.
Anyhow, the average carrot weighs about 72 grams, and a cup of chopped carrots weighs around 122 grams, so eating 50 grams a day is about as easy a dietary task as you'll ever get.
While the people who make POM Wonderful pomegranate juice have made claims about its efficacy in treating prostate cancer that were a little too bold for the FDA, there is some evidence that shows it can slow the rise of PSA levels in men who've been diagnosed with prostate cancer.
Pomegranate may also juice up erections, so there's that, too. Drink about 6 ounces of juice a day with or without meals.
This drink, made from the steeped leaves of camellia sinensis, allegedly benefits almost every organ system in the body. It may be cardioprotective, liver protective, artery clearing, anti-diabetic, fat burning, and prostate-cancer thwarting.
The active chemical is probably epigallocatechin-3-gallate, or EGCG, which is another polyphenol. One cup of green tea contains about 50 mg., but you may need about 300 mg. to potentially protect your prostate. That's a lot of tea to drink, but it's likely that drinking a cup or two would offer some protection, albeit it not as much as a "full" daily dosage.
Some supplements, like Biotest® Superfood, are chockfull of EGCG so that's an option too.
Sulforaphane is a compound found in cruciferous vegetables like broccoli and its been shown in studies to inhibit a particular enzyme in prostate cancer cells (4). Just about everybody who's eating a good diet is already eating broccoli anyhow, but this is just another reason to make sure we get a serving (a half cup) or two at least a few times a week.
I'm well aware that some people chafe at dietary changes. They have trouble enough just remembering to eat, let alone introducing a variety of foods into their diet. For them, there's always the supplement route. The following two appear to be among the most promising of the prostate shrinkers:
Pycnogenol is another polyphenol that's been shown to shrink prostates just as well as the prescription drug finasteride. In a study conducted in Korea, scientists found that rats that had their prostates artificially ballooned up through testosterone injections and then received pycnogenol experienced the following (5):
"...the oral administration of PYC (pycnogenol) in rat model of BPH (benign prostate hyperplasia) significantly decreased the weight of the prostate and prostatic hyperplasia, which resulted from lower DHT concentrations in the serum and prostate. Our findings thus strongly suggested that PYC may be a useful agent for the treatment of BPH."
The doses they used were large, but so was the amount of testosterone the rats were given. Still, I'm betting that two daily dosages of 200 mg. would work as prostate insurance in humans. Fixing or curing an already-enlarged prostate might take heftier doses, though.
However, much smaller doses (40 mg.) have been shown to treat erectile function.
There have been over 2,000 studies where this polyphenol, found in the spice turmeric, has been shown to be a potent warrior against cancers of the breast, liver, colon, lung, pancreas, and prostate, to name a few.
Furthermore, curcumin has been found to increase the amount of nitric oxide in the blood, thus allowing more blood to flow into the penis when the arousal fairy strikes.
Unfortunately, the body doesn't absorb curcumin very well. Simply ingesting it as a main constituent of curry powder, regardless of the amount eaten, isn't going to have much of an effect.
As such, you need to ingest curcumin as part of a formula that contains piperine, which enhances absorption by up to 2,000 percent. Biotest® curcumin is the top choice.
- Horgan J. Why I Won't Get a PSA Test for Prostate Cancer. Scientific American, June 14, 2017.
- Ablin R, MD. The Great Prostate Mistake. The New York Times, March 9th, 2010.
- Xu X et al. Dietary carrot consumption and the risk of prostate cancer. Nur J Nutr. 2014 Dec;53(8):1615-23.
- Watson GW et al. H3K9me3 attenuates sulforaphane-induced apoptotic signaling in PC3 prostate cancer cells. Oncogenesis. 2014;3:e131.
- Je-Won K et al. Inhibitory effects of Pycnogenol®, a pine bark extract, in a rat model of testosterone propionate-induced benign prostatic hyperplasia. Lab Anim Res. 2018 Sep;34(3):111-117.