New Study: High PSA Levels Don’t Always Indicate Cancer
The Prostate-Specific Antigen (PSA) test is a blood test that measures levels of a protein the prostate gland produces. Though many men with prostate cancer usually have high levels of this protein, this does not always indicate cancer for many of those individuals. Other less-serious health conditions may also cause PSA levels to rise. Here’s what you need to know.
What are PSA Levels?
PSAs are normal proteins found in the cells of the prostate gland. This protein is released by the prostate into the semen, where it acts to liquefy the semen following ejaculation. Most of the PSA produced by the prostate gland is carried out of the body in semen, but a very small amount escapes into the bloodstream, which is why normal, low amounts of PSA is found in the blood.
Levels of PSA, according to Yamini Ranchod, PhD, MS, typically remain below 4 nanograms per milliliter (ng/mL). “Most men with prostate cancer have PSA levels of above 4 ng/mL, but about 15% of men with a PSA level below that are also diagnosed with prostate cancer.” This means that PSA tests alone cannot rule out or determine whether a man is at a higher risk of having or developing prostate cancer.
As previously stated, many men with prostate cancer have higher-than-normal PSA levels. However, a higher-than-normal PSA test result does not always indicate prostate cancer. There are seven other causes of high PSA levels, including health conditionals, lifestyle factors and testing inconsistences that can lead to high test results.
According to numerous studies and test results, a person’s PSA level tend to increase slowly with age. Men over 50 years old should speak with their doctor regarding their risks and screening options.
An inflammation of the prostate, prostatitis, is due to bacterial infection. Men with Prostatitis may have elevated PSA levels. Symptoms of this condition include trouble urinating, fever, or pressure in the rectum. Speak with your doctor for more information.
- Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia
BPH, or benign prostatic hyperplasic, is an enlarged prostate. This has been shown to raise PSA levels and is a common condition in older men. BPH has not be shown to increase the risk of prostate cancer but it is tricky – as its symptoms can be similar to prostate cancer. Speak with your doctor for more information.
- Medical Procedures
Studies have shown that a recent prostate exam, having a urinary catheter, or inserting a scope into the urethra can cause false positives on PSA tests. Speak with your doctor for direction, but waiting a few weeks before undergoing the PSA test, according to Ranchod is your best bet.
- Urinary Tract Infection
Men with a Urinary Tract Infection, UTI (an infection in the urethra or bladder), may experience pain during urination, blood in the urine, or an inability to urinate. In most cases a simple urine test can accurately diagnose a UTI but a UTI has been known to increase PSA levels.
- Vigorous Exercise
Studies have shown that vigorous exercise a day or two before a PSA test may result in a false positive. Speak with your doctor regarding exercise recommendations and disclose your exercise routine before scheduling your PSA test.
“Men who have scheduled a PSA test should tell their doctors about any prostate symptoms they experience. Ejaculating during the 48-hour period before a PSA test can cause PSA levels to rise temporarily. Men planning a PSA test should avoid masturbating or sexual activity for 2-3 days before the test.”
Holistic and Nutrition Support of the Prostate
According to Nicole Crane, B.S., NTP, there is a lot that can be done holistically and nutritionally to support the health of the prostate.
Zinc is great for prostate health and healthy hormone balance for men. It also supports immunity, so it even has a protective effect on prostate tissue.
Pumpkin seed oil supports the prostate due to its source of zinc, Vitamin E, and its powerful antioxidant properties against inflammation.
Saw palmetto supports a normal prostate size, as well as healthy hormone balance. An enlarged prostate pressed down on the urethra and against the bladder, making it difficult and maybe even painful to urinate and/or fully empty your bladder. This may also impact your sleeping patterns.
Stinging nettle root extract protects the prostate by preventing DHT from stimulating it to over-grow. Nettle is a great supporter of healthy hormones which is the key to a normal and healthy prostate size; when the prostate is normal, urinary function is normal, as well.
Lycopene is a powerful antioxidant, as it protects the body from free radicals that aim to destroy body tissues to regain stability. Not only does lycopene tend to go towards and accumulate in the prostate, once present, it seems to have a very protective effect over prostate tissue and the viability of sperm overall.