Thu, Jun 07, 2018 - Page 4 News List

Zinc, lycopene no help for prostate enlargement, Taichung doctor says

By Tsai Shu-yuan and Jake Chung  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

A doctor in Taichung is hoping to disabuse people of the belief that tomatoes, pumpkin seeds, cranberries or zinc-rich foods could help cure enlarged prostates.

Benign prostate hyperplasia (BPH) is the noncancerous enlargement of the prostate caused by androgens, said Chiu Kun-yuan (裘坤元), a physician at Taichung Veterans General Hospital.

The prostate gland of the average male begins enlarging around the age of 20, due to constant stimulation from androgens, Chiu said.

However, in severe cases the enlargement of the prostate could encroach on the urinary glands, causing a male to experience difficulty urinating or lead to periods of urinary retention, which could cause urinary tract infections or bladder stones and affect kidney function, Chiu said.

Zinc-rich foods cannot help prevent prostate enlargement, nor would they help an already enlarged prostate, nor can cranberries, once believed to help prevent urinary tract infections, Chiu said.

One of his patients, who thought consuming copious quantities of lycopene, which gives fruits and vegetables their red color, would help relieve BHP, drank cartons and cartons of tomato juice as if it were water, Chiu said.

What the man did not know was that most brands of tomato juices have a very high sugar content, and he ended up hospitalized with hyperglycemia, discovering too late that not only did all that tomato juice not cure him of BHP, but it had given him diabetes, Chiu said.

Research on lycopene has been conducted in terms of preventing prostate cancer, not BHP, Chiu said.

Rumors that too little or too much sex would also affect BHP are false, as is the idea that the number of sexual partners one has is a factor, Chiu said.

While 80 percent of patients find relief from symptoms brought on by BPH through medication, surgery should be considered if drug therapy does not help, the doctor said.

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