Men’s Body Click Diet part 4
Benign Prostatic Hypertrophy and Prostate Cancer
Benign prostatic hypertrophy is an enlargement of the prostate that’s called benign because it is not due to cancer cells. Still, the enlargement can be far from benign if it results in a lack of control over functions that we all take for granted, including urinating when you want to urinate and only then. A single urinary accident in front of your classmates in the first grade can constitute a major, unforgettable scar in one’s childhood; a repeat performance, like that of my sixty-year-old patient while standing in line at the check-in counter at O’Hare Airport, is no joke either. Nor is `benign’ the right word to describe the condition that underlies such loss of control. BPH may also involve getting up frequently at night to urinate, with the intense urgency to do so unfortunately combined with a disconcerting hesitancy of performance and a lack of reward in the volume of urine produced.
Although the symptoms of BPH can be severe, it is ironic that men with prostate cancer often have no symptoms. As they age, most men, on biopsy, show signs of prostate cancer. In fact, by the time they are in their eighties, nearly all men have prostate cancer, as defined by the typical cancerous appearance of cells under the microscope. Yet, because this particular cancer grows slowly and spreads infrequently, only a small percentage of men actually become sick or die from the disease. (A man’s lifetime risk of dying from prostate cancer is a little less than three per cent.)`’
Given the low odds of illness or death from prostate cancer, it’s confusing from a medical standpoint when a 60-, 70- or 80-year-old man has a prostate biopsy and is found to have cancer cells. Because the question of the actual malignancy of the condition — how likely it is that the cancer will grow quickly enough to cause problems — is difficult to resolve, it encourages a more aggressive approach to therapy than might otherwise be warranted. Since aggressive therapy frequently involves either removing testicles or taking female hormones, which can produce dramatic changes in a man’s body, this is not a trivial question.
Natural therapies for treating or, more important, preventing illness are not usually studied in the same way as pharmaceuticals, because no one can patent a naturally occurring substance like flaxseed powder and make enough money to justify the enormous expense of carefully conducted, controlled and double-blinded studies. Still, the studies show that consuming soy protein and other isoflavone and lignan-containing foods reduces the risk of prostate cancer. And the cancer data suggest strongly — and there is abundant anecdotal evidence to support it — that the same hormonal environment that leads to the high incidence of cancer in older men inour culture, but not in Chinese and Finnish men, is also associated with the risk for prostatic enlargement.5
The simple strategy for preventing the range and frequency of prostate problems is to consume more soy protein, flaxseed powder and rye fiber. If you happen to be a regular bacon, ham or sausage and eggs kind of guy, I urge you to substitute the shake, with its soy protein and flaxseed powder, at least four days a week. It’s good that you’re eating protein at your morning meal and getting the lift you need at the beginning of the day, but what you’re eating will not protect your health like soy protein and flaxseed. (If you don’t have time for breakfast, see the section for travelers in the appendix, where you’ll find a quick shortcut that will help you get your soy protein and flaxseed every day.
The Body Clock Diet and Heart Disease: It’s not Just the Cholesterol
Coronary heart disease (CHD) is the number one killer of both men and women in the United States. Each year, more than five hundred thousand Americans die of heart attacks caused by CHD. Soy intake has been shown to lower cholesterol and decrease cardiovascular disease associated with high cholesterol. There is growing scientific evidence to support this; for example, one recent study showed that a diet high in soy protein reduced cholesterol by as much as 20 per cent. 6 Other research has demonstrated that soy protein lowers triglycerides and reduces the oxidation of LDL or ‘bad’ cholesterol, which contributes to blood vessel problems linked to cardiovascular disease? And flaxseed has also been shown to lower both total and LDL cholestero1. The Body Clock Diet, which includes daily intake of soy protein and flaxseed powder, ensures that you get this important protection.
But cholesterol is not the exclusive evil agent in heart disease. Some people, especially those with complicating conditions of diabetes, tobacco smoking and a strong family history of heart disease and obesity, carry cholesterol-related risks. But most people who have heart attacks and other complications of ‘hardening of the arteries’ have fairly normal cholesterol levels.
The tide of medical thinking is changing when it comes to heart disease. It looks as if issues related to carbohydrate excess, insulin resistance and homocysteine and its control by folic acid will take center stage away from cholesterol. 9 The benefits of substances like flaxseed and soy are not due solely to lowering cholesterol. Soy and flaxseed do indeed lower serum cholesterol, but they also modify carbohydrate and fat metabolism, further decreasing your cardiovascular risk. You don’t have to be takingaim at your cholesterol to get benefits from soy, flaxseed and the Body Clock Diet.
Like many men, you may have a tendency not to think about your health, shrugging off warnings from your mother, spouse, doctor and children as well as newspapers and television programs that try to scare or educate you about activities that are dangerous to your well-being. Nor do you want to listen to me when I say that failure to adhere to basic circadian principles may eventually show up as something noticeably wrong with your health. But my advice is simple: there are some painless things you can do to reap what are potentially major rewards for your long-term health.