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How female contraception is raising prostate cancer rates in men

Updated on June 19, 2013

Prostate cancer is the growth and accumulation of abnormal cells in the prostate gland which end up causing a tumor. In bad cases, this abnormal cells can metastize or migrate to other parts of the body. It is unfortunate that the exact cause of this cancer is still a mystery. However, some contributing factors have been identified.

One of these is age whereby men who are fifty years and above are at a higher risk of contracting prostate cancer. This is because the aging process in men is said to favor the growth of abnormal cell growth. This is occasioned by the creation of a conducive environment in the body, by the formation of favorable biochemical reactions.

Other factors connected to getting prostate cancer

One’s race could also be a factor when it comes to getting prostate cancer. This is because research has shown that prostate cancer affects the African American men, more than other men from other races. Unfortunately, the research seems to indicate that these men are more likely to detect the disease when it is at an advanced stage. It also shows that more African American men die from this disease, as compared to men from other races.

At the same time, few men of Asian American or Hispanic origin have been diagnosed with prostate cancer, as compared to whites who are not of Hispanic origin. This makes it hard to make a conclusion as to the reason for racial and ethnic differences when it comes to contracting the disease.

However, this is not a death sentence placed on any man from this races. Rather it is a caution that is meant to promote frequent check up behavior among such men. This will ensure that any complications are identified early enough. As a result treatment will be given early, and chances of recovery from prostate cancer are improved when this is done.

Nationality has been another factor identified when it comes to prostate cancer. This is because it has been seen to be more common in North America, as well as, North Western Europe. However, there are fewer cases in Africa, Asia and Central America, as well as, South America. An explanation for this may be the testing mechanisms for the disease in these areas which may be a big contributing factor. This is because samples may not be varied enough to offer reliable results.

Heredity is another factor which simply means that if ones father had prostate cancer it increases the chances of one contracting the disease. This goes even further to include older siblings, meaning if an older brother has had it then one is also at risk of contracting it. This is occasioned by what scientists are referring to as hereditary prostate cancer genes. These genes and the extent to which they actually contribute to the contracting of the disease are still under research.

Sexually Transmitted diseases and Prostate cancer

Exposure to sexually transmitted diseases can also lead to prostate cancer. Studies show that in men with a history of having numerous sexually transmitted infections, the risk of contracting this disease is 1.4 times more than in men without such a history. This makes it even more crucial for one to lead a sensible sexual life by practicing safe sex.

Diet and lifestyle are other culprits because they seriously contribute to one’s health and body composition. An unhealthy diet, high in saturated fats and processed foods, does not do one’s body any favors. This is especially so when it comes to men who are in love with red meat, in addition, to taking lots of alcohol. Smoking does not do one any favors as well since it is said to promote the growth of carcinogenic cells in the body.

High fat dairy products have also been identified as contributors to getting prostate cancer among other illnesses of the prostate. This has also been connected to taking lots of calcium, although conclusive evidence is yet to be found. However taking foods high in antioxidants has been seen to counteract any negative effects in the environment that may cause cancer. This is because antioxidants are extremely powerful when it comes to stabilizing unstable molecules in the body which prevents abnormalities in the cell that may lead to prostate cancer, as well as, other cancers.

Hence diet and exercise can substantially contribute to the prevention of prostate cancer. This means being active, and minimizing- if not entirely keeping away,from alcohol and smoking. When it comes to diet, it’s essential that one makes a habit of eating lots of fruits and vegetables.

Taking lots of watermelon and tomatoes is advisable when dealing with prostate cancer. This is because they contain lycopene, a compound said to be immensely helpful in the prevention of prostate cancer. Simply adding lots of tomatoes in ones cooking can significantly enhance ones chances of avoiding prostate cancer, as the potency of lycopene increases, when tomatoes are cooked. Exposure to toxins, chemicals and pollutants in the environment is also thought to contribute towards having prostate cancer.

Can hormones increase the risk of getting prostate cancer?

However, one factor that is exceedingly controversial is hormonal influence. It is said that testosterone, which is a hormone located in the testicles, favors the growth of both normal and abnormal prostate tissue. This means it can lead to the growth of prostate cancer tissue in the gland, and there are studies indicating that decreasing testosterone levels keeps prostate cancer tissue from growing.

It is said that infections of the prostate such as urinary tract infections can cause an increased risk of getting prostate cancer. However, there is little evidence supporting this. Another cause is genetics. Research has identified genetics to be a culprit when it comes to contracting different cancers. This is because a genetic defect in a man can cause him to be unable to produce a certain enzyme that is essential in protecting the body against being vulnerable to cancer causing agents. When vulnerability is high, then one can easily suffer from different types of cancer such as prostate cancer.

Female Hormone and Prostate Cancer

However, scientific research is now indicating that female hormones could also be playing a role in causing prostate cancer. This may sound confusing as one would be hard put to understand how female hormones can end up causing a disease in the male body. This is because not many people may be aware that men do also produce estrogen in their bodies.

Surprising enough this female hormone, estrogen, is thought to be extremely valuable when it comes to balancing hormones in men. However its presence in the male should be controlled, otherwise when the levels get to be too high, it can lead to serious health complications.

It is necessary to note that the male body needs a small amount of estrogen. This is because it can be beneficial in preventing and promoting certain occurrences in the male body. Men have progesterone and estrogen in significantly lower levels than what is found in women.

Progesterone helps sustain good balance of hormones in the male body. It helps in formation of testosterone and other hormones produced from the adrenal cortisone gland. When they are teenagers, men have low levels of estrogen and high levels of testosterone. When they age it is the opposite as the testosterone levels are now lower than the estrogen levels.

Hormones, which are produced by the endocrine gland in the body, are particularly beneficial when it comes to different body functions. There are estrogens which are female hormones and androgens which are male hormones. These are immensely crucial when it comes to determining distinctive male and female characteristics and body parts in a person. The concentration of these hormones in individuals is what defines whether they portray female or male body features and characteristics.

When it comes to prostate cancer treatment female hormones are used as a form of treatment. This is because they suppress the production of the male hormone testosterone which is said to feed cancerous cells. This means that apart from lowering testosterone levels these hormones can also lead to the reduction of the size of a tumor. This is because they will lack the nourishment they get, from testosterone, to grow and spread.

Hence female hormones can be extremely beneficial in combating prostate cancer. However, their use can be detrimental, as well. This is because the use of estrogen in hormonal treatments can lead to increased blood clotting in the body which may ultimately lead to strokes or heart attacks. Hence this treatment should be done while closely monitoring the individual.

Another ailment that can be treated using the estrogen hormone is Aromatase deficiency. This is rare and occurs in young men where their bodies are unable, to properly grow, and develop bone mass. There is increased skeletal weakening as the individual grows which may end up causing fractures and medical conditions such as osteoporosis. The use of estrogen in this case is to help in normal bone growth and increase the mass. This will result in a strong bone structure hence circumventing the problems experienced when suffering from the disease.

It’s important to note that the use of these female hormones may end up inducing certain sexually and emotionally related side effects to the patient. This includes moodiness, hot flashes, lowered libido and impotence among others.

Effects of estrogen in the male body

There are some other well documented effects of having too much estrogen in the male body. One of these is the growth of breast tissue in an abnormal way which is referred to as gynecomastia. This is occasioned by the male developing breasts that are firm and bigger than normal. This is because the estrogen in the body affects the small amount of breast tissue normally found in males causing it to grow as is normal in women. This breast tissue is quite different from the normal pectoral deposit of fat found in men.

Sterility can also be caused by the effects of estrogen hormone in the male body. This may result in the low production of semen as well as cause the semen to have a low sperm count. Another thing may be the production of sperm with low motility, which may cause the sperm to be too weak to survive in the female vagina; hence no fertilization can occur. The presence of too much estrogen in men also means that it can also lead to the lowering of the hormone FSH which is essential for the maturation of sperm into viability.

How estrogen causes prostate cancer

However a surprising effect of estrogen is that it is thought to cause prostate cancer. This is surprising because this hormone has for a long time been used to treat the disease. So how does this occur? One activity that can lead to such an outcome is testosterone replacement therapy. This therapy is hugely beneficial when it comes to helping men from suffering from heart diseases, obesity and even diabetes.

The down side is that the use of this therapy also increases the production of estrogen in the male body. This increase in estrogen levels has been connected to causing prostate cancer. How is this when testosterone has been known to be the feeder of prostate cancer cells? It is claimed that estrogen levels are not harmful when testosterone levels are high. However if, the rate of estrogen to testosterone levels is too high then the testosterone will not be adequate enough to help in regulating PSA levels, dealing with urinary tract symptoms or prostate enlargement problems as it does. Hence the ratio is the contributing factor.

Another way that estrogen has played a part in prostate cancer development is by men being exposed to low estrogen levels through chemical use in pesticides, cosmetics and other commercial products. This is backed up by evidence that men who are in the farming profession and who are frequently exposed to pesticide containing estrogen have a higher rate of prostate cancer compared with other men.

Female contraception and Prostate cancer

Another way that prostate cancer has been linked to female hormones is through contraception. This is baffling as men have nothing to do with birth control pills which are the culprits here. However new studies are emerging seeming to connect the prevalence of prostate cancer with female contraception. Although there are many types of contraception including vaginal barrier contraception, intrauterine devices and condom use among others only the use of pills has been singled out to have a connection to prostate cancer cases.

The contraceptive pill is one among the many avenues that women can use to prevent unwanted pregnancies. This is taken orally, and it is said that if it is taken correctly it is almost perfectly effective against unwanted pregnancy. However it is not used in protecting women against sexually transmitted diseases.

So how does this pill work? In a normal fertility cycle, a woman releases an egg into her uterus each month to be fertilized by a male sperm. The hormones in the female body are what controls this action and are also responsible for preparing the body for the fertilization and nourishment of the egg till it is a fully grown baby.

The contraceptive pill contains female hormones to prevent ovulation and also making the female reproductive system inhospitable to a sperm hence chances of having a conception are nullified. There are also contraceptive pills, which are taken, to reduce the chances of conception within 72 hours of having unprotected sex. Others are used to decrease the menstrual periods in a woman. Another option is a mini pill which is prescribed to lactating mothers or those who are affected by too much estrogen. All these pills have a combination of estrogen and progestin hormones to assist in achieving the needed result.

It is also essential to note that other forms of contraception such as the vaginal ring and the patch also contain small amounts of estrogen and progestin. Hence the scope of female contraception is quite broad and the fact that it is suspected to be a cause of prostate cancer then makes it a bit worrying. How does this happen anyway?

Female contraception and prostate cancer

The main way this is caused is surprisingly enough through excretion. Apparently women on the pill urinate estrogen. This excreted estrogen gets into the water and the environment. There is scientific evidence that small levels of estrogen can cause cancer in men, this is one possible explanation being given by scientists for the prognosis. In an environment where many women are on the pill, this may lead to huge estrogen levels in the environment, and this is a situation which can cause prostate cancer in men.

Another cause of this is that men living in areas where there is evidence of women using a lot of contraception have corresponding high risks of getting prostate cancer. These are North America and Europe.

However it is agreed that this idea is still being researched hence women should not be wary of going on the pill. In similar fashion men should not be afraid of being in a relationship with women using pills for contraception. However, there are a few things, apart from adopting a good diet and exercising frequently, that one can do to help minimize chances of getting the disease or to reduce its severity.

This involves doing ample research on one’s medical family history. This is a good idea not only for being aware of one’s risk of getting prostate cancer but also when it comes to other ailments. Knowing ones family medical history, therefore, means being aware of how to live one’s life in an attempt to avoid falling prey to diseases they may be prone to.

Testing for Prostate cancer

This in the case of one being at risk of getting prostate cancer will mean having frequent checkups. Frequent checks ensure that the prostate cancer will not go too far without being detected. Early detection is a potent weapon when it comes to beating prostate cancer. Frequent screening is beneficial especially as prostate cancer is not an aggressive cancer. Hence, by identifying the cancer, there are better chances of isolating the cancer cells and destroying them before they spread and make the condition serious.

Testing should be frequently done once an individual reaches the age of 40. The first one should be the PSA test which is also known as the Prostate Specific Antigen test. As the accuracy of the PSA test on its own has been put to question, this should be followed by a DRE test or Digital Rectum Examination. This is to increase the chances of accuracy. It is necessary to note that this sequence should be followed and not the other way round. This is because DRE test can affect the results of a PSA test but not vice versa. If either of the tests indicates a problem, then a biopsy can be done to confirm whether there is the presence of cancer or not.

It has also been identified that taking of certain vitamins can be used to reduce once risk of contracting prostate cancer. A good example is Vitamin D .This means men can benefit from spending time in the sun which is said to be the best way of getting Vitamin D naturally. It has been proven in laboratory research that this vitamin can stop the growth of prostate cancer cells.

It is essential to be careful with ones reproductive system. This involves taking care of the urinary tract. This means protecting oneself when having sexual intercourse especially with multiple partners. This is because men who have suffered from STDs and/or urinary tract infections have been seen to contract prostate cancer easily later on in life.

In conclusion, even as there are numerous claims as to the causes of this disease prevention is better than cure. Having a healthy lifestyle as concerns diet and plenty of exercise, and going for frequent testing is of considerable importance. Prostate cancer is not an aggressive cancer; this means that by identifying it early men can get treated for it successfully. This is the best approach to dealing with prostate cancer and one that has proven to save the m


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