What Causes Enlarged Prostate?

March 10, 2016

By The Institute for Natural Healing

What Causes Enlarged Prostate?Enlarged prostate is one of the most common health issues among middle age and older men. But despite the prevalence of the condition, medical researchers have not been able to prove exactly what causes it. However, they do have clues.

The medical name for enlarged prostate is benign prostatic hyperplasia, or BPH. Studies show the condition is more prevalent in Western nations compared to Eastern countries, such as Japan and China. It is also more common among blacks.[1]

There seems to be a genetic component to enlarged prostate. A study found a strong genetic connection for BPH in men younger than age 65 who have a very enlarged prostate.

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The research showed their male relatives were four times more likely than the general population to need surgery for BPH at some point in their lives. The brothers of younger BPH sufferers were found to have a 600% increase in risk.

The cause of enlarged prostate has typically been described in general terms. Often doctors say it is “part of the aging process.”

But research has uncovered evidence that the condition is closely linked to a substance you’ve probably never heard of. It’s called DHT, which is short for dihydrotestosterone.

DHT is blamed for another condition associated with male aging: male pattern baldness.[2]

Here are important facts about DHT, which is a male hormone:

  • DHT is vital for the in utero development of male genitalia.
  • DHT is five times more potent than testosterone.
  • DHT has been proven to cause male pattern baldness. More than half of men are likely to experience male pattern baldness. The numbers of men afflicted by enlarged prostate and male pattern baldness are roughly the same.
  • DHT is an androgen hormone. It helps give males their male characteristics.
  • There is no known role of DHT in female development.

DHT has been studied closely by researchers, and it is clear that it plays a role in enlarged prostate.

The primary male sex hormone, testosterone, is converted to DHT by specific enzymes in your prostate. Roughly 5% of testosterone is normally converted into DHT.

DHT is much more active than testosterone. It binds to the same sites as testosterone. However, it does so faster and remains bound for longer time periods.

While DHT causes baldness and is linked to enlarged prostate, it is vital to normal male development. DHT plays an important role in the formation of male characteristics such as the penis and prostate during fetal growth.

Testosterone production in men slows when they get older.[3] However, it may be that men suffering from enlarged prostate convert more of their testosterone to DHT, which causes their prostate problems.

Female hormones may also play a role in prostate. Yes, men do have estrogen and other female hormones. As men age, their testosterone levels drop. This means the proportion of estrogen to testosterone increases. Scientists believe this may lead to prostate growth.[4]

There’s another theory. It focuses on cells in a specific part of the prostate gland that may become active late in life. It signals other prostate cells to replicate by causing them to have increased sensitivity to growth-stimulating hormones. More prostate cells means a larger prostate.[5]

A cure for enlarged prostate would be one of the greatest modern advances in health care for men. But so far, medical researchers have not been able to prove what causes the condition, much less find an effective treatment.

How Big Is Your Prostate? Take Quiz.

 

[1] http://urology.jhu.edu/prostate/bph.php

[2] http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/68082.php

[3] http://www.endocrineweb.com/endocrinology/overview-testes

[4] http://www.nytimes.com/health/guides/disease/enlarged-prostate/causes.html

[5] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23570837