Prostate conditions are quite common as men reach age 50 and are generally the result of one major factor: getting older. As a man, it's likely you'll experience prostate problems as you reach your 50s and beyond as your prostate continues to grow, pushing on the bladder and urethra and potentially impairing urinary and sexual function.
Men age 50 and older run a greater risk of developing prostate conditions, especially benign prostatic hyperplasia ("BPH") and prostate cancer. Once men reach age 60, more than half have symptoms of BPH and by age 70 and 80, 90 percent of men show symptoms. Prostate conditions can affect men at any age, with young and middle-aged men most commonly affected by an inflammation of the prostate called prostatitis.
Heredity plays a major role in prostate cancer. Having a father or brother diagnosed with prostate cancer more than triples your risk of developing prostate cancer during your lifetime. Make sure you let your doctor know you if you have a family history of prostate cancer, as it may influence your screening appointments.
Research indicates that prostate cancer is the only prostate condition in which race is a contributing factor. Prostate cancer is most common among African-American men, who are more likely to get prostate cancer and the cancer is usually more advanced when discovered. For this reason, it's recommended that African-American men begin prostate cancer screenings at an earlier age.
Studies show that eating high-fat foods and few fruits and vegetables may raise your risk of developing prostate conditions or worsen existing problems. As you might expect, there is also evidence that reducing saturated fats and eating more whole grains, fish, nuts and seeds can yield beneficial results. Prostatitis may be prevented with proper hygiene and safe-sex measures, which help prevent bacteria from entering the urethra and infecting the prostate's ducts.
Prostate conditions can also occur as a result of various structural issues such as:
- injury, trauma, and surgery to the perineum (the area between the scrotum and anus)
- recent infections to the bladder, urinary tract or other parts of the body
- the insertion of a catheter or cytoscope, which is used to examine inside the bladder and urethra
- the body's unique physiology, such as an overly-enlarged prostate or abnormal urinary tract