Benign prostatic hyperplasia Patient friendly summary

  • There is limited information that sunlight may reduce the risk of benign prostatic hyperplasia.
  • Vitamin D may lower the risk of benign prostatic hyperplasia by reducing inflammation and cell growth in the prostate.

An enlarged prostate is often called benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH).

The prostate is a male reproductive gland. It produces the fluid that carries sperm during ejaculation. The prostate surrounds the urethra, the tube that carries urine out of the body.

Most men have enlarged prostates as they get older. Benign prostatic hyperplasia is a common disorder affecting 50-80% of the aged male population.

Risk factors

High-fat foods, such as dairy products and red meat, seem to increase benign prostatic hyperplasia risk. However, this risk may be reduced by:

  • Diets high in vegetables, tofu, and polyunsaturated fatty acids.
  • Regular moderate consumption of alcoholic drinks.
  • Exercise

Sunlight exposure and benign prostatic hyperplasia risk

There is limited evidence that exposure to sunlight reduces the risk or severity of benign prostatic hyperplasia. For example, a study in Japan found limited seasonal variation in BPH severity. This was attributed to temperature, not vitamin D.

Vitamin D and benign prostatic hyperplasia

Vitamin D levels

There are no reported studies of vitamin D levels and benign prostatic hyperplasia risk.

However, a number of studies have found a link between different vitamin D receptor (VDR) alleles and BPH risk. VDRs are triggered by calcitriol, the active form of vitamin D.  They help turn genes on and off. Alleles are different genetic forms of VDRs.

How vitamin D works

Vitamin D may lower the risk or symptoms of benign prostatic hyperplasia by reducing cytokines. These substances increase inflammation and cell growth in the prostate.

Prevention

The effects of vitamin D on benign prostatic hyperplasia risk and severity has not been demonstrated in human studies.

Treatment

Vitamin D may reduce the risk or symptoms of benign prostatic hyperplasia, but this has not been demonstrated.

Find out more…

We will be adding a detailed evidence summary on this topic in the near future.  Please check back soon to find out more.

Page last edited: 10 June 2011