Causes and Risk Factors for Enlarged Prostate

Eileen Bailey | May 5, 2015

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Enlarged prostate or benign prostatic hypertrophy (BPH) is an enlargement of the prostate gland. What is it, what causes it, and what are the risk factors? Explained, here.

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What is an enlarged prostate?

An enlarged prostate, or benign prostatic hypertrophy (BPH), is considered a normal part of the aging process. It occurs when the cells in the prostate multiply. As the prostate gets bigger, you might experience difficulty urinating, frequent urination, blood in your urine, and more frequent urinary tract infections.

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Why does it happen?

Even though BPH is the most frequent urinary diagnosis in men in the United States, the exact cause is still not known.

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What are the risk factors?

One of the main risk factors for BPH is age. As you get older, your risk increases. It is estimated that 70 percent of men between the ages of 60 and 70 have BPH. This increases with each decade; 80 percent of men over the age of 70 have symptoms of BPH.

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It might be genetic

If another male in your immediate family, such as your father or brother, have been diagnosed with BPH, there is a greater likelihood that you will also develop symptoms.

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Ethnicity might also play a role

Black men have a 47 percent higher chance of developing symptoms than the general public. Men with southern European ancestry might have a slightly higher risk and men with a Scandinavian ancestry might have a slightly lower risk. Some studies have shown that Asian men have a lower risk of BPH, however, one study showed that while Asian men did not as often opt for surgery to correct symptoms, their risk was similar to that of the general public.

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Your weight may play a role

Several studies have shown a connection between obesity and a higher risk of BPH. Having excess body fat may affect your body’s hormone production and therefore increase your risk.

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Think about switching your diet

A diet high in polyunsaturated fats can increase your risk, as does a diet high in beef products. Eating plenty of fruits and vegetables and regular exercise might decrease your chances of having BPH symptoms.

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Some health conditions might contribute

Heart disease and diabetes have been linked to a higher rate of BPD symptoms. Some medications, such as beta-blockers, can also contribute to an increased chance of BPD.