The Number One Thing Men Can Do To Prevent An Enlarged Prostate

An enlarged prostate is something that occurs with age. A man's prostate — located below the bladder and in front of the rectum — is the gland that produces the seminal fluid that is responsible for sustaining and transporting semen where it needs to go. As you age, fluctuating testosterone levels and changes in testicle cells could contribute toward the gland becoming larger. 

An enlarged prostate, also referred to as benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) or benign prostate enlargement, is not cancerous and doesn't increase your chances of developing this chronic disease, but it can become concerning when it starts to interfere with your quality of life. Symptoms can start showing up when you hit middle age and can become more prominent when you're older. They include a frequent and urgent need to pee, increased urination at night, trouble with getting the urine flow started, weak or dribbling urine stream, and not being able to fully empty your bladder. 

While there are medicines and surgical procedures to treat an enlarged prostate, turns out, there's one significant thing men can do to reduce their risk of developing BPH — avoid getting metabolic syndrome. According to urologist and pelvic surgeon Dr. Rena Malik (via YouTube), "Metabolic syndrome is essentially a constellation of conditions that are all due to certain metabolic abnormalities, including things like diabetes, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure, and they often occur together."

Metabolic syndrome is linked to enlarged prostate

A 2017 study published in the Asian Journal of Urology linked metabolic syndrome with the development of benign prostatic hyperplasia and lower urinary tract symptoms in men. Urinary tract-related issues like infections, bladder stones, blood in your urine, and even kidney damage because of backflow of urine are more severe complications that arise from having an untreated enlarged prostate. 

According to a 2021 meta-analysis published in Therapeutic Advances in Endocrinology and Metabolism, there was a significant link between obesity (one of the conditions related to metabolic syndrome) and benign prostate enlargement. A 2013 study in The Journal of Urology points toward certain physiological changes that happen with obesity such as increased intra-abdominal pressure, changing hormones, increased sympathetic nervous activity, an uptick in inflammation, and oxidative stress with the development of BPH. There is also a possible connection between having heart disease and diabetes and a risk of developing an enlarged prostate. The effects of BPH are worse when someone has diabetes too. For example, a 2022 study published in Frontiers in Endocrinology found that urinary tract symptoms that arise from prostate enlargement are exacerbated when diabetes mellitus is a part of the picture. 

High bad blood cholesterol conditions, like having a family history of hypercholesterolemia is also a risk factor for an enlarged prostate. "The prostate is great at metabolizing cholesterol, so anything that increases its levels — including poor diet — makes prostate growth more likely," explained a urologist at Houston Methodist, Dr. Ricardo Gonzalez. 

Avoid metabolic syndrome to prevent enlarged prostate

As we said before, metabolic syndrome is a cluster of health conditions that often occur together, so avoiding an enlarged prostate is about doing what you can to prevent these health complications. Being older; being of African American or Mexican American origin; having a body mass index (BMI) higher than 25; having a family history of diabetes; drinking heavily; making poor lifestyle choices like smoking, unhealthy diet, and a physically inactive routine; and being under excessive stress can contribute toward you developing metabolic syndrome. 

Identifying the risk factors you can control like diet, stress, and exercise, and working on ways to change them could be one of the natural ways men can boost their prostate health as they age. Limiting unhealthy fats (think saturated and trans fats), added sugars, processed foods, and red meat, and embracing a balanced and nutritious diet full of leafy greens, whole grains, lean protein, and healthy fats is one change you can make. Making exercise a part of your weekly routine is important too, with science pointing toward combining strength-training with cardio to reap the best benefits. Even as little as two hours a week of physical activity can be beneficial.  

Stress and associated lack of sleep can lead to some of the health conditions related to metabolic syndrome too. When your stress and hunger hormones are out of whack because of a lack of sleep, you could be prone to overeating and associated health concerns. Maintaining mindfulness practices and even seeking out professional help when needed can help in these areas.