The prostate gland is an essential part of the human male reproductive system. The gland is what produces the seminal fluid which both protects and nourishes the sperm on their way through the ducts of the reproductive system. The prostate is usually only about the size of a walnut and occurs near the bladder and before the penis. Many men have trouble with their prostate glands, particularly when they grow older.
Prostate cancer is actually the most commonly occurring cancer among men with more than 174,000 new cases diagnosed each year in the United States alone. If caught early enough the disease can be well managed, but if not detected in time, the cancer can grow and spread to the bones, eventually leading to death.
This cancer is more common in older men and men who are obese.
Scientists also believe that genetics may play a role in influencing your risk of getting prostate cancer. Screening and early detection is crucial for detection of prostate cancer in men to increase their odds of survival.
Enlarged prostate – what are the causes?
Besides prostate cancer, other problems often occur with the gland in men as they age. The condition of benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) occurs in some men. This is when the prostate gland enlarges and occurs most often in men who are older than 40, and even more often in men who are 80 or older.
The condition is not known to be linked to prostate cancer.
It is thought that hormones are important when it comes to enlargement of the prostate since men who have had testes removed do not have enlarged prostates when they grow older. This suggests that the hormone testosterone has some role in influencing the gland, and in fact, scientists have found that dihydrotestosterone (DHT), an androgen hormone formed from testosterone, is linked to prostate enlargement in older men.
Hormones and aging – is there a link?
As men age, their levels of testosterone decrease yet the impact of DHT hormone on the prostate seems to be greater. Scientists believe many factors are involved in influencing the development of BPH, and that it is not limited to only this specific androgen hormone. DHT does impact the prostate cellular development, and it also has a strong impact on the development of male pattern baldness. Men with this type of hair loss can only fix the problem long-term through hair transplant procedures such as the FUE.
Hormones levels can change for many different reasons, to some extent this is due to growing older.
However, other factors such as medical conditions and even prescription medications could all interfere with the natural levels of hormones in our body. Natural changes in hormone levels do occur in men as they age but this is not as sharp of a drop as is seen in women when they go through menopause.
More research is needed on the role of different factors on androgen hormones in men and how these can interact to influence the risk of prostate gland enlargement and even the risk of prostate cancer.