Sex and prostate cancer prevention – Putting Dr G On The Spot
Dear Dr. G,
I am a 40-year-old man who is reasonably fit and healthy.
Although I look after myself well, as do most men approaching their forties, I begin to hear more about the prostate, but have no idea what it is, and how to look after the prostate.
In the last week of Men’s Health Movember, I wish to get Dr. G to put prostate health on the spotlight.
What exactly is the prostate, what does it do?
How do I know whether my prostate is in a good state of health?
I hear in the news that prostate cancer is on the rise, is that true?
I understand that the prostate is affected by diet, can you please highlight what diet is protective and what is harmful for the prostate.
I also understand sedentary lifestyle can cause prostate cancer, can you enlighten us with the reasons behind such association.
Lastly, I cannot put Dr. G on the spot about the prostate and not talk about sex.
Is there a link between prostate cancer and sex? Would too much sex induce cancer in the prostate?
Thanks for answering my queries.
Concerned at forty
The prostate gland is a walnut-shaped organ located within the pelvis of a man. This organ is surrounding the urethra and positioned between the bladder and the penis. Prostate is essential for men in his reproductive years, as it secretes prostatic fluid as the nutrients for the sperms. The role of the prostate is unknown beyond procreation, as the organ continues to grow with advancing age with no specific advantage. The enlargement of the prostate can potentially cause problems in urinary flow, sexual dysfunction and even cancerous changes.
A man is normally completely oblivious to the state of his prostate as it is located deep inside the pelvis. However, most men would experience some degree of urinary symptoms by the age of 50, as the occlusion of the urinary flow may cause slowness in urine flow. This can also result in the incomplete voiding, causing frequent urination day and night. The enlargement of prostate is also commonly associated with erectile dysfunction. Around 60% of men with urinary symptoms commonly reported erectile dysfunction, and similarly about half of men with erectile dysfunction also complain of obstructive urinary flow.
The symptoms of benign prostate enlargement and cancerous changes are completely undifferentiated. It is also difficult to rely on the symptoms to identify early presentation of cancer. The only way to detected malignancy of the prostate is through a blood test called PSA (Prostate Specific Antigen). This may be followed by biopsy through the rectum to definitively determine the presence of the cancerous cells.
It is widely reported in medical literature the prevalence of prostate cancer being on the rise throughout the globe. Some clinicians believe this is due to men living longer and the detection technology becoming more advance. Some scientists also highlighted the synthetic man-made chemicals that exist in plastics and pesticides mimicking compounds known as xenoestrogens, interfering with healthy male estrogen-testosterone ratio, leading to undesired prostatic growth. This may be another cause of the rising prevalence of cancers.
It is widely recognised that a sedentary lifestyle, consumption of animal fat and dairy products are associated with prostate cancer. On the other hand, nutritional compound that are recognised to prevent inflammations of the prostate can help to suppress cancerous changes. Food such as sprouts, broccoli, cabbages and kale are rich in nutrients to support prostatic health.
Many men worry about too much sex may lead to cancerous changes of the prostate. On the contrary, a well-constructed research tracked 32,000 men for 18 years on their sexual activities including masturbation, sexual intercourse and wet dreams identified lower risk of cancer with frequent ejaculation. Research found men with at least 21 ejaculations per month had about 20% lower risk of prostate cancer, compared to men who had sex four to seven times a month. The statistic is true in several age groups of men studied. Bill Gates once said: “Treatment without prevention is simply unsustainable.” Although the month of November is coming to an end, Movember movement raises awareness about men’s health and enhancing knowledge on their health and bodily function. Although the treatment of prostate cancer has ventured into the space age technology of robotic era, the treatment of the rising number of prostate cancer without prevention, due to sedentary modern lifestyle, is simply unsustainable. Often times, urban myths such as too much sex can cause harm to the body is simply unfounded. When Dr. G is put on the spot on prostatic health and sex, his response is simply: “Ignorance without knowledge of prostate health is simply unsustainable!” On that note, happy preventing prostate cancer and happy ejaculating! Dr George Lee
Dr George Lee is a consultant Urologist and Clinical Associate Professor whose professional interest is in men’s health. The column “Putting Dr G on the spot” is a forum to help men debunk the myths and taboos on men’s issues that may be too “hard” to mention. You can send him questions at email@example.com