Prostate Health – The Reason For The Season

By Dr Monique Hallee, BScHK ND. November, or “Movember” as it has come to be known, marks the time of year where men (and sometimes women) sport mustaches in an awareness for prostate cancer. Campaigns like this and the “Ice bucket challenge” for ALS that took off this past year are great fundraising moves for the organizations but often these events leave out the details. In a tribute to prostate health, let’s review and compare prostate cancer and benign prostate hypertrophy (BPH).

Prostate cancer is more predominate in developed countries, such as Canada. It seems to be linked to things like low vitamin status, and diets high in sugar, animal products, trans and saturated fats, as well as exposure to tobacco smoke, pesticide and fertilizers to name a few. There are also links to our gene expression as well, which can be what we have inherited from our parents or changes that have occurred from environmental influence. Symptoms can sometime mimic what you would see in BPH. These include a weakened flow of urine, an urge to urinate often including at night time and general changes to the urine amount and frequency. Additionally, with prostate cancer there may also be symptoms of:

enlarged prostate
– Blood in the urine,
– Low back or hip pains,
– Swelling in the legs,
– Bone pain,
– Local swollen lymph,
– Unexplained weight loss and
– Fever

Thankfully, much can be done to recover from prostate cancer, but the key is prevention and early recognition, as this cancer usually does not express many of the above symptoms (such as hip or bone pain) until it has already spread. It is important for men to have regular check-ups with their doctors. Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) is the blood test which is most ordered for symptoms of prostate cancer, but this test is not entirely accurate. It can produce false negatives or false positives. With this test, men should also be getting a digital rectal exam (DRE) by their ND or MD. While the exam may be more invasive and uncomfortable, it can tell a doctor a lot about the state of the patient’s prostate. If the doctor finds harder nodules, it indicates cancer, but if the prostate is even throughout but large, it indicates BPH. This procedure may prevent men having to go through even more invasive procedures, such as unnecessary surgery procedures.

If BPH is found, treatment is much less rigorous than if cancer was found. Naturopathic medicine is particularly useful on its own for BPH. Medicines such as herbal formulations that include things like stinging nettle root are available for such purposes. In the case of prostate cancer, there are many natural treatments that act as wonderful adjuncts to the more modern practices of chemo, radiation and surgery.

If you or a man you know is experiencing any changes in urination or any of the symptoms above, it is highly recommended to visit a trained physician. When it comes to health concerns that can possibly mimic cancer, getting a proper workup may save a life or at least piece of mind.

If you have any questions about this article or any other subject, write Dr Hallee. You could have your question featured in an article!

Dr Hallee headshotDr Monique Hallee BScHK, ND
Dr Hallee is a naturopathic doctor who has a family practice, with expertise in women’s health. She has been around the world to learn various aspects of health care and is now located in Langley BC at Meditrine Naturopathic Medical Clinic.

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