Did You Know…an ingredient in tomatoes may help relieve the symptoms of enlarged prostate and help lower the risk of developing prostate cancer?
Although the prostate gland starts out small, it tends to enlarge as men age, a condition called benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, prostate enlargement affects almost all men, and while it doesn’t increase prostate cancer risk, it does come with some extremely undesirable symptoms that greatly reduce quality of life:
- Uncontrollable urges to urinate
- Frequently having to urinate
- Being unable to fully empty your bladder
- Sleepless nights and sleepy days
- Serious discomfort
Traditional methods of dealing with BPH carry some risks. Many men opt for a surgery called transurethral resection of the prostate (TURP) to correct the condition, but it can also cause sexual side effects. According to Harvard Medical School, 50-75% of TURP patients go on to have retrograde ejaculation, which means semen enters the bladder rather than exiting the penis. And 5-10% of patients experience erectile dysfunction after undergoing TURP.
BPH medications such as alpha-blockers and alpha reductase inhibitors can also cause erectile dysfunction and can affect male fertility by lowering sperm count, sperm volume, and sperm movement.
How Tomatoes May Help
Tomatoes are loaded with one of Mother Nature’s most health-giving antioxidants—lycopene! Lycopene is a red pigment carotenoid (ever wonder why tomatoes are red?) that has been shown to help shrink an enlarged prostate and relieve symptoms, such as the need to frequently urinate…so you can finally get a good night’s rest!
Australian researchers gave 60 men between the ages of 40 and 80 either a placebo pill or a lycopene supplement every day for three months. The lycopene supplement greatly reduced bladder pressure and cut nighttime trips to the bathroom down by a third.
Protect Against Prostate Cancer
Lycopene in tomatoes also shows promise as an anti-cancer agent. A recent study out of Bristol University and published in the journal Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers and Prevention showed that men who ate more than 10 portions of tomatoes each week had an 18% reduced risk for developing prostate cancer. Portions included fresh tomatoes, tomato juices, and baked beans.
Dr. Iain Frame of Prostate Cancer UK told BBC News: “A healthy, balanced diet with plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, together with regular exercise is by far the best option.”
Men who ate 5 servings of fruits and vegetables a day slashed their risk by 24% compared to men who ate 2.5 or fewer servings of fruits and vegetables.
Natural Remedies for Enlarged Prostate
Beyond tomatoes, there are other celebrated remedies for enlarged prostate; however, none have been definitively proven to alleviate symptoms.
Saw Palmetto: According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), a few small-scale studies show that saw palmetto may help reduce the symptoms of BPH, but other larger studies indicate the plant is no more effective than a placebo.
Beta-sitosterol: this cocktail of different plants is rich in cholesterol-like substances called sitosterols that may help relieve the urinary symptoms of BPH.
Pygeum: made from the bark of the African plum tree, pygeum is an age-old remedy for enlarged prostate, and is frequently used in Europe; however, studies have been inconclusive. Pygeum can also upset the stomach.
Rye Grass Pollen Extract: made from timothy, rye, and corn grass pollens, rye grass pollen extract was shown to improve symptoms of BPH according to a study in BJU International.
Stinging Nettle: another treatment popular in Europe, stinging nettle is thought to help moderately improve symptoms. Mild side effects such as upset stomach and a skin rash can occur.