Diet and risk of BPH.




Am J Clin Nutr

Related Monographs

Consumer Data: Eicosapentaenoic Acid (EPA) Prostate Health
Professional Data: Eicosapentaenoic Acid (EPA) Prostate Health


Hyperplasia describes the overgrowth of tissue. Benign prostatic hyperplasia, also known as BPH, is the non-cancerous overproduction of prostate cells that result in enlargement of the prostate. This condition, which commonly afflicts men over the age of 50, can lead to a range of uncomfortable symptoms and increases the propensity toward bladder infections. The exact mechanism that stimulates prostatic hyperplasia is not completely understood although hormonal changes are thought to play a significant role as well as body fat.1

Older men generally experience benign prostatic hypertrophy. Initially, no symptoms may be present. Eventually there will be an increase in the number of hurried and necessary trips to the restroom for urination, both day and night. There will likely be an increased difficulty in starting the urine stream as well as a decrease in the force of the urine stream resulting in dribbling and the loss of ability to completely empty the bladder. Persistent bladder infections can also occur.

A study reported in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition looked at the potential role of nutrition in the development of this disease. This study occurred from 1986 to 1994 and included men between the ages of 40 and 75 years. Over 3,500 men met the criteria for BPH, either by having BPH surgery or scoring 15 to 35 points on a lower urinary tract symptom questionnaire. Researchers found that the odds ratio rose as the total energy intake through diet increased. In addition, they found that there was a positive correlation between protein and total BPH. However, total fat intake was not associated with an increased risk, but higher amounts of eicosapentaenoic, docosahexaenoic, and arachidonic acids were linked to a moderate increased risk. The authors concluded that there are "modest direct associations between BPH and intakes of total energy, protein, and specific long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids. Because eicosapentaenoic, docosahexaenoic, and arachidonic acids are highly unsaturated fatty acids, our findings support a possible role of oxidative stress in the etiology of BPH."2


1. DeLignieres B. Transdermal dihydrotestosterone treatment of andropause. Ann Med. 1993;25(3):235-41.
2. Suzuki, Sadao et al. Intakes of energy and macronutrients and the risk of benign prostatic hyperplasia. Am J. Clin Nutr 2002;75:687-97.