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Protecting Your Prostate

Did you know that prostate cancer is the greatest killer of men in industrialized nations? The sad truth is 90% of men develop some type of prostate problem by the age of 60. Yet many have a cavalier attitude to prostate health. They think it can't happen to them and they dismiss the warning signs and symptoms as a nuisance which will go away.

Sadly, unless treated, they won't go away. So what are the warning signs of potential prostate problems, what tests can you have and what can you do to protect your prostate? WHAT IS THE PROSTATE? Both a sex gland and a muscle, your prostate is located just below the bladder and in front of the rectum. Its lobes wrap around tubing, called the urethra, which carries urine out through the penis. In a young man the prostate is walnut sized. Later in life it typically grows larger.

One of its main jobs is to produce secretions that eventually nourish sperm. Its other function is as a muscle involved in the process of ejaculation. As a man ages, the gland can increase in size over time and press against the urethra to the extent that his ability to urinate and empty the bladder can be affected. This effect is known as BPH or benign prostatic hyperplasia.

WHAT ARE THE SIGNS OF BPH? The most common signs are nocturnia [getting up several times a night to urinate], weak urine stream and a feeling of incomplete emptying of the bladder. A man can also suffer from dribbling before and after urination, frequent daytime urination and increased urgency. WHAT TESTS CAN YOU HAVE? There are 2 main tests that you can have.

The first is a Digital Rectal Exam or DRE. During the exam, your doctor places his gloved index finger into your rectum to evaluate the condition of your prostate. While many men dread this procedure, a DRE is a must for any man at risk for prostate problems and should be performed during an annual physical exam for men over 40. I am aged 68 and have this test as a part of my annual physical check up. You may feel uncomfortable the first time but it is a very simple procedure, taking only seconds.

My message is: Your health is at stake here so get over it and have the test! A general enlargement might indicate BPH. Some enlargement plus bumps or sponginess is often a sign of prostatitis. This is an infection and inflammation of the prostate which can show up in the form urinary complaints, burning, itching and unusual discharge from the penis. A rock hard prostate can indicate cancer. If any irregularities are found, your doctor usually calls for more tests. A healthy prostate will not feel painful when pressed on.

This test can detect disease early and spare you from illness, debility and more unpleasant medical procedures. The second test is a Prostate Specific Antigen [PSA] blood test. PSA is a protein that is present in blood samples and it is thought to be produced in the prostate.

PSA numbers seem to rise when infection and inflammation are present in the prostate gland. As with DRE, all men should have their first test at age 40 and then annually beginning at age 45. The PSA test has been quite controversial, because results are not always consistent with the absence or presence of prostate problems. A reading of 4.0 or below is considered safe. Above that figure is not a good sign and a score of 10.

0 or higher is considered dangerous. A possible indication of cancer beyond the prostate. These figures can change each year, so don't be complacent if your score is 4.0 or below at present. Continue to have your annual test. When you have your annual PSA test, it is a good idea to ask your doctor to check your blood ALBUMIN level.

This is recommended by Dr Larry Clapp, author of "Prostate Health in 90 Days without Drugs or Surgery." Albumin protects tissues from free radical damage [cellular damage that can progress to cancer]. Healthy people tend to have high albumin levels.

When you are sick and your immune system is under stress, your albumin level usually drops. Never start a new treatment before consulting your doctor, especially if you are currently taking medication. The information published in this article is not intended as a substitute for personal medical advice from your physician or other qualified healthcare practitioner. It is for information purposes only.

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