Prostate problems affect a large percentage of the male population over 50 years of age. These problems manifest as hyperplasia or swelling of the prostate, impotence issues, urinary issues and worst of all, cancer issues. Prostate cancer is the second most common cancer in men and 1 in 6 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in their lifetime. Factors such as age, lifestyle and family history are all significant in the onset of prostate problems. However men should be familiar with one very important aspect to prostate health over which they have complete control and this is the area of zinc nutrition.
Research conducted at the Linus Pauling institute in Oregon State University has shown that prostate swelling usually precedes prostate cancer. This swelling or hyperplasia as it is known has also been shown to be associated with zinc deficiency. While they did not conclude that this swelling was a precursor to prostate cancer, it is almost always seen prior to the onset of the disease. They also showed in the course of these investigations (in vitro) that this prostate swelling could be reduced by adequate zinc intake. In fact the prostate cells that were beginning to swell underwent programmed cell death or apoptosis when zinc deficiency was corrected.
The prostate gland contains the highest concentration of zinc of any organ in the human body. Science is unsure of the reason for this but cancerous prostate glands have been shown to have less zinc than healthy ones. Going back to the research in Oregon, it was also noted that the role of zinc might be more of a preventative one as supplementation had little effect on already cancerous prostate cells. That said, zinc has many other important functions in the body especially around immunity so anyone diagnosed with prostate cancer should not ignore zinc nutrition.
So maintaining an adequate supply of good quality zinc would appear to be a good policy in helping to prevent the onset of prostate problems. However deciding on the right zinc supplement is not as easy as you may think. They are many synthetic ones on the market and research has shown that taking zinc on its own may upset the delicate balance it maintains with other trace elements in the body. For example, copper absorption may be affected by taking too much zinc. As copper and zinc are needed together in a large number of enzyme processes in the body, we must be careful to respect the balance.