A Moment of Science

Prostate Problems

Do you have prostate problems? Learn about ways to combat prostate cancer on this Moment of Science.

What most people know about the prostate gland is that it tends to develop infections and cancer in men over the age of sixty-five. But unlike another organ prone to infection called the appendix, the prostate does important work. In fact, the human species couldn’t survive without it.

A walnut-sized organ resting under the bladder, the prostate produces a fluid that constitutes most of the liquid in semen. The prostate fluid in semen helps keep sperm healthy and active after ejaculation. Since lively sperm have a better chance at fertilization, a working prostate is crucial for human reproduction.

Prostate cancer typically affects men over the age of sixty-five. The cancer develops slowly and usually shows no early symptoms. When it does begin to show, symptoms can include frequent and painful urination, and sometimes blood in the urine. When caught early, prostate cancer can be controlled with hormones and anticancer drugs. But if not treated at an early stage, prostate cancer can spread to the ribs, pelvis, and other bones.

Some studies have linked high animal fat diets to the likelihood of developing prostate cancer. In China, where people generally eat less fatty foods, incidences of prostate cancer occur at a far lower rate than in the United States, where high fat diets are common. Studies have also shown that tomato-based foods help protect against prostate cancer. Tomatoes contain lycopene, an antioxidant that inhibits the production of cancer-causing free radicals and unstable molecules.

Diet aside, the best way to combat prostate cancer is to catch it early on. Regular screenings during checkups can mean the difference between a controllable cancer and a fatal disease.

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