BPH, or benign prostatic hyperplasia, is a common condition for which there are no clear answers. Experts have yet to discover a distinct cause for enlargement of the prostate but they have established that several factors may influence the development or worsening of this condition. As is usually the case, some of these factors are within a man’s control and some are not.
- Age. According to research, a man’s risk for developing BPH seems to tip to the “likely” side around the age of 50. Approximately 35 percent of men first show signs of this condition during their 50s, whereas only 20 percent of cases occur in men aged 40-49. Risk increases to 58 percent during a man’s 60’s, and is at 84 percent after age 70. Age-related factors believed to contribute to these risks include hormone changes and damage to blood vessels around the prostate.
- Family history. Studies suggest that men whose brother, father, grandfather, or son have been diagnosed with BPH have a higher risk of developing enlarged prostate themselves. This risk is elevated if a close family member was diagnosed before the age of 50.
- High DHT. Dihydrotestosterone, or DHT, is a chemical that is derived from the male hormone testosterone. The prostate grows as dictated by this hormone, which is produced in the testes. While excessive DHT seems to be linked to enlarged prostate, testosterone itself is not. The problem occurs in the conversion of testosterone by the enzyme 5-alpha-reductase.
- High estradiol. Estradiol is a form of the female hormone estrogen. It is normal for men to have a small amount of this hormone, just as it is normal for women to have a small amount of testosterone in their bodies. If imbalance occurs between male and female hormones, men are at risk of low libido, increased body fat, and enlarged prostate.
- Obesity. Extra pounds, especially around the midsection, are degrading to a man’s health. In addition to increasing the risk of BPH, obesity in men has also been linked to an increased risk of lower urinary tract infections.
Benign prostatic hyperplasia is not prostate cancer and is not believed to increase a man’s risk of prostate cancer. It can, however, be a concerning and frustrating condition to live with.