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21 April 2008
Get Active, Avoid Urological Problems
by George Atkinson

For older men, physical activity can significantly reduce the risk of developing an enlarged prostate, erectile dysfunction and lower urinary tract symptoms, say doctors in the journal European Urology.

The researchers note that moderate to vigorous physical activity may reduce the risk of benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH, or enlarged prostate) and lower urinary tract symptoms (LUTS) by as much as 25 percent relative to those who choose a couch potato lifestyle. The lowering of risk, however, only appears to be significant with higher levels of activity as the protective effect was much less with light physical activity.

The lowering of risk through physical activity challenges the assumption that BPH and LUTS are simply a product of aging, say the researchers. Genetic predisposition, androgens, and estrogens - which were implicated in earlier understandings of the disease - are important components, they note, but the relationship of physical activity with BPH/LUTS is also important.

They speculate that physical activity may influence prostate growth through alterations in hormone levels, or, that physical activity exerts beneficial effects through improved cardiovascular health. Previous studies have shown that men who suffer from metabolic syndrome are more likely to have BPH, LUTS and erectile dysfunction, as are men with heart disease. Metabolic syndrome is associated with systemic inflammation and oxidative stress, and inflammation potentially drives BPH. Thus, exercise might mitigate the lower urinary tract manifestations of systemic cardiovascular disease. Increased physical activity has also been associated with a lower risk of erectile dysfunction so it is possible that BPH/LUTS and erectile dysfunction share a common association with cardiovascular disease.

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Source: European Urology

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