Your prostate and your body – What’s the connection?
Disorders and diseases of the prostate range from the merely inconvenient and slightly embarrassing to those that are life-threatening and highly anxiety provoking. The most common prostate problems are:
- Prostatitis (inflammation, often caused by a bacterial infection but not always)
- Benign prostatic hyperplasia or BPH (noncancerous enlargement of the prostate due to aging)
- Prostate cancer
For many of the patients who come to the Sperling Prostate Center, a prostate gland problem acts like a barometer of a broader health issue. A growing body of research makes a compelling case for what intuition and common sense already suggest. If your body is in peak condition, you are at reduced risk for prostate cancer and other prostate difficulties. More importantly, you are less susceptible to cardiovascular disease, chronic disorders like diabetes, and other cancers. You likely enjoy great quality of life for yourself and your loved ones.
At the Sperling Prostate Center, we want the best for the men who consult us for prostate diagnostics and treatment options. Even without a family history of prostate or breast cancer (yes, breast cancer genes are found in men with prostate cancer), a multitude of factors raise the odds of developing prostate cancer, e.g. being overweight, smoking, lack of exercise, poor nutrition, and environmental toxins, to name a few. Our mission to restore and maintain prostate health includes the responsibility to address the whole person as the source of prostate wellness. If you embrace physical, mental and emotional wellbeing, your body will thrive—and your prostate gland will thank you.
We offer this Men’s Health section in the hope that it acts like a map and a compass to help show you the landscape, and point you toward action steps you can take. Remember: minimizing the risk of prostate cancer involves the same lifestyle changes that disarm the leading killer, heart disease.
Wellness Warriors – maximizing health and defending against cancer
Your body is an amazing and complex system. If injury or illness occurs, it has built-in healing ability. This has enabled humans to survive and thrive, from the Stone Age to our own Information Age. The fact is, however, that since about 1970 the incidence of lifestyle-related disorders and cancer is rising. Why? For starters, the typical First World diet promotes chronic internal inflammation and lacks nutrients that keep our immune system in top condition; the products we use on our bodies contain toxic chemicals; and the stressors we face daily lead to mental, emotional and attitudinal states that can actually harm us.
Three keys for health
Your body entered the world with the natural ability to protect and defend itself. This carries with it the personal responsibility to counteract today’s health threats by making conscious choices that help our bodies give us a long, healthy and happy life. There are three keys for maximizing health and deterring diseases, including cancer and chronic conditions such as obesity and diabetes:
- Support the body’s ability to prevent problems from taking hold.
- If illness sets in and intervention is needed, reinforce the immune system to boost treatment effectiveness.
- After treatment, commit to ongoing choices that balance the system and preserve wellness.
In short, become your own Wellness Warrior, starting NOW!
The three keys are interrelated. Each of the keys is a stand-alone responsibility with important benefits. However, when fully integrated, they maximize what the body can do naturally by overlapping in ways that strengthen each of them.
The origins of cancer in the body
In order to help your body do its job of preventing cancer, here are some cancer facts.
- When healthy tissue in the body is infected, injured or diseased, inflammation develops in and around the affected area like an army coming to defend territory. As blood rushes in, white blood cells help to marshal the immune system against any invaders while sealing off the area. During the process, chemical messengers set up the regeneration of tissue along with blood vessels so the site can be repaired. Inflammation itself does not cause cancer, but cancer is opportunistic and selfish. It can hijack these resources and suppress their control mechanisms in order to promote its own growth. Since much of our diet in the U.S. actually fosters chronic inflammation, the body becomes a sort of breeding ground for cancer. Take heart: you can prevent unnecessary inflammation that cancer can potentially manipulate for itself.
- The time we live in is often called the Information Age, but it might well be called the Carcinogenic Age. Carcinogens are toxic substances that pollute our bodies and do harm. Asbestos and smoking are known to lead to lung cancer. Farming and livestock methods to feed the masses have led to our food sources being laced with pesticides, herbicides, growth hormones and antibiotics associated with the development of hormonally driven cancers like breast cancer and prostate cancer. Other organ cancers may result from microscopic cell damage done to tissues where residues from these chemicals are deposited and accumulate. Take heed: you can protect yourself from carcinogens with lifestyle changes.
- Until the Industrial Revolution, society was largely agrarian and adults spent their days in tasks requiring physical labor. Since the Industrial Revolution, mechanization gradually replaced body movement. In a world where careers and commutes absorb many waking hours, today’s workers tend to be stationary (standing or sitting in one location), riding in cars and elevators, and sitting in front of an entertainment center at the end of a long day. Without regular exercise, the body’s systems from microscopic blood vessels, organs, lungs and heart literally become less efficient. Even the walls of our arteries and veins gradually change shape from circular to elliptical, and become more prone to the effects of oxidation such that the lipids (fats) in the bloodstream accumulate on the inner vessel walls, setting up a cardiovascular catastrophe. Take note: Exercising vigorously at least 3 times weekly maintains health and speeds healing.
- The body isn’t affected just from the outside. Our internal environment also makes an impact on wellness. Even small events of daily life, work and dysfunctional relationships trigger negative emotions (fear, anxiety, anger, frustration, discouragement, bad attitude, guilt, etc.) These feelings are stressors that keep us in a hyperadapted state called fight-or-flight, or the stress response. The main biochemical messengers that are released during this response are adrenaline, cortisol and norepinephrine. While these are your best friends in an emergency, today’s lifestyle keeps them at persistently high levels that turn them into enemies. Over time, they can lead to high blood pressure, constant tension, heart disorders, digestive problems, and more inflammation. Take our word for it: supportive relationships and a few simple stress management tools improve the mind-body connection and assist the immune system.