You may have seen public health campaigns and media coverage that very importantly raise awareness of prostate cancer, but have you heard of BPH?
Benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), also known as a benign (non-cancerous) enlargement of the prostate, is Australia’s most common prostate disease. The progressive disease is not as serious as prostate cancer, but can really compromise a guy’s quality of life, and relationships with his partner and family.
It’s for this reason that doctors are today encouraging middle-aged Aussie blokes to have their prostate checked.
Leading urologist, Associate Professor Bill Lynch, from Macquarie University in Sydney, explains why the prostate can be so troublesome, especially as men get older.
“An enlarged prostate can cause difficulty in passing urine and over time can lead to the complete inability to pass urine, urinary infections, damage to the kidneys or bladder and eventually potential surgery.
“Prostate issues are a fact of life for men and are just as relevant now as they have been through the ages,” said A/Prof Lynch.
“BPH is a progressive, non-cancerous disease that tends to strike ageing men.
“Fifty per cent of men aged in their 50s will experience BPH, increasing to 80 per cent of men aged in their 80s,” A/Prof Lynch explained.
Your usual daily activities, like driving, sport, sleep and social activities can be considerably affected. BPH is also linked to male sexual function, with a higher International Prostate Symptom Score (IPPS), a scoring system used to screen for, diagnose and monitor symptoms, associated with more severe erectile dysfunction.
A/Prof Lynch says it’s important to get to ‘the heart of the matter’, telling us that the management of prostate symptoms can have far-reaching benefits for a man’s general health and wellbeing.
“Maintaining overall prostate health is vital. Importantly, anything that’s heart healthy, is prostate healthy.
“Nearly all documented interventions or lifestyle changes beneficial for heart health, have been shown to prevent, or reduce the impact of BPH, including moderate exercise, diet (regular vegetable and water consumption, fibre and Omega-3 intake), and weight control,” added A/Prof Lynch.
“High blood pressure, excessive calorie intake (particularly foods high in saturated fats), high cholesterol, heart disease and conditions that heighten your risk of developing diabetes, stroke and heart disease all negatively impact BPH.”
Importantly, we should point out that having BPH does not increase your chance of developing prostate cancer.
While BPH cannot be prevented, there are many options available to improve the symptoms. Oral medications can be prescribed by a GP or specialist (urologist) and if surgery is required, it’s much less invasive and safer than it used to be, which is reassuring!
So if you suspect that you, or a loved one, may have symptoms of BPH, talk to your GP. To check the severity of your symptoms and learn more, you can head to www.disappearingdave.com.au.