Harvard Men's Health Watch

On call: Prevention for BPH

On call

Prevention for BPH

Q. My brother needed surgery for an enlarged prostate at age 60. I am just a few months shy of my 50th birthday, and my urine stream is starting to slow down a bit. Is there anything I can do to avoid following in my brother's footsteps?

A. Prevention is the best medicine. However, in the case of the prostate, although many effective treatments are available, the role of prevention is less certain.

Lifestyle seems to influence the risk of prostate cancer. Diet holds the best hope for prevention. That means a low intake of saturated fat and a generous intake of whole grains; fish; vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, and tomatoes (especially cooked tomatoes); and possibly soy. It seems wise to avoid a high consumption of calcium and of alpha-linolenic acid, the omega-3 fatty acid found in canola oil and flaxseeds. Staying lean should reduce risk. Although the evidence is mixed, some studies suggest exercise may help. Supplements of vitamin D hold some promise, but more research is needed. Supplements of selenium and vitamin E are not helpful.

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