As many as half of 50-year-old men have benign prostate hyperplasia, which causes frequent and sometimes painful urination, while up to 80 per cent of 70-year-olds have the condition, Dr. Alan R. Kristal of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle and colleagues note in their report.
The only established risk factor for BPH that people can do something about is obesity, particularly in the abdominal region.
To investigate whether dietary changes could be beneficial as well, Kristal and his team followed 4,770 initially BPH-free men for seven years, during which time 876 developed the condition.
Men who had two or more alcoholic beverages daily were 33 per cent less likely to develop BPH than teetotalers, the researchers found, while those who consumed at least four servings of vegetables daily were at 32 per cent lower risk than those who ate fewer than one serving per day.
Red meat increased the likelihood of BPH, but only in men who ate it every day. Men who ate the most fat were 31 per cent more likely to develop BPH, while the highest consumers of protein actually cut their risk by 15 per cent.
The protein finding "doesn't mean go out and eat lean meat, it means go out and find lean sources of protein, which can be quite diverse," Kristal told Reuters Health, pointing to beans and vegetable proteins as two possibilities.
© The Windsor Star 2008