Causes and Risk Factors for BPH

It is still unknown what are the exact causes of BPH. One of the theories declares that with age the prostate gland becomes more sensitive to testosterone (hormone). As this hormone is responsible for growth in males, the prostate begins to grow in size.  The second popular theory pinpoints the fluctuating ratio between the levels of testosterone and estradiol (a variation of estrogen) in males.


Over 20% of American men, aged between 40 and 49 manifest BPH symptoms. The percentage rises to 35% for those aged between 50 and 59 and 58% of men in the range of 60-69 years show symptoms typical of BPH. Amazingly, the percentage goes up to 84% in men, who are 70 years old or more.  It appears as the man ages the levels of hormones change. Ageing also causes destruction of the blood vessels that transport blood to the prostate region. According to some experts, low level of blood supply causes detrimental growth in the prostate gland. The solution would be to improve the blood flow and constantly exercise and practice a prostate gland massage.

Uninterrupted production of DHT

DHT or dihydrotestosterone is a hormone, which is produced at the time of conversion of testosterone by 5 alpha reductase, an enzyme. BPH, being an androgen-dependent disease, has a direct relation with testosterone (androgen). During the growing years, the prostate grows at the encouragement of testosterone. Young males who had testicle-removal surgeries will not suffer from BPH. Similarly, removal of testicles post-puberty but before the occurrence of BPH remarkably decreases the risks of developing BPH symptoms.  Nevertheless, testosterone is not solely responsible for BPH. DHT also stimulates the growth of prostate cells. Experts say that the accumulation of DHT in aging men causes BPH.

BPH in the family

Those men, who already have a male family member such as brother, father, grandfather or cousin suffering from BPH, have a greater risk of having it. The threat increases when the male relative had a treatment for BPH before turning 60.

High level of estradiol

Men produce a small percentage of estrogen naturally in the form of estradiol. A male body produces estradiol when it converts testosterone. A healthy equilibrium between estrogen and testosterone facilitates strong sex drive, sturdier bones, healthy heart condition, and good functioning of the brain.  On the other hand, if the estradiol levels are excessively elevated and the ratio is imbalanced, men suffer from a lower sex drive, overgrown prostate, excess body fat, and exhaustion. When there is a lack of balance between testosterone and estrogen, the DHT activity shoots up. It leads to the growth of prostate cells.


Accumulation of fat in the body, particularly in the area surrounding the midsection, enhances the chances of having enlarged prostate. The startling connection between too much body fat and lower UTI (urinary tract infection) and having BPH was pointed out also in a review study presented in July 2009. The relationship between BPH and excessive weight may be attributed to the decreased testosterone levels found in overweight men. Additionally, reduced testosterone levels indicate that there is a corresponding elevation in estrogen levels too which, in turn can raise the DHT activity and lead to enlargement of the prostate. Excessive weight causes changes in the blood insulin levels, which again increases the risks of BPH.


Men, who have diabetes, have greater chances of getting BPH. According to research, the raised insulin levels may be the cause, which along with “corralling” the blood sugar and leading it into the cells, encourages growth. The connection between diabetes and BPH may also be attributed to the damage that blood sugar causes to the blood vessels. An overgrown prostate often occurs as a result of impaired blood vessels around the prostate.

Raised level of “bad” cholesterol

A study done in 2008 by the researchers at the USCD School of Medicine noted the connection between diabetes and BPH. It was found that men having raised levels of bad cholesterol (low-density lipoprotein or LDL) ran greater risks of getting BPH than those whose LDL levels were normal.  Men were divided into 3 groups – low, medium, high – by the researchers. It was noted that the men whose LDL levels were “high” had 4 times greater possibility of developing BPH than those men who had “low” levels. (The study did not connect BPH and aggregate triglycerides (blood fats) and cholesterol levels).

Poor immunity

Stressful lifestyle and poor diet weaken the immunity system and thus, can cause BPH. Taking immuno boosting supplement is recommended as well as leading an overall active lifestyle.

Syndrome X

Metabolic syndrome or syndrome X refers to a collection of disorders, which enhance the chances of having cardiovascular diseases. High blood pressure, overweight, intolerance to glucose or insulin resistance (when, on command, the usual amounts of insulin fail to carry blood sugar into cells), the presence of higher C-reactive protein in the blood (pro-inflammatory state) and presence of elevated plasminogen or fibrinogen activator inhibitor-1 in the blood (prothrombotic state) are some of the disorders. The above mentioned causes raise your chances of having BPH

Ethnic identity

According to a study published in 2007, men belonging to the black and Hispanic ethnic groups are more susceptible to BPH than the Asian and white males are. Nevertheless, other such studies failed to prove this finding.

Atherosclerosis or ASVD

Accumulation of cholesterol in the walls of arteries causes atherosclerosis. As per one study, people suffering from ASVD face more chances of developing BPH symptoms.

Unhealthy diet

A study which appeared in the American Journal of Epidemiology 2008 concluded that consumption of vegetables in high amount, fatty foods, and red meat in low quantity can protect against BPH. A diet that is high in fat and red meat increased BPH risk by 31% and 38% respectively. Moreover, consuming vegetables at least 4 servings daily decreases the risk by 32%. The role of fat in the growth of prostate is still not certain. However, there are some theories, which state that fat raises the levels of estrogen and testosterone, which in turn, lead to BPH.

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