Though age-related prostate enlargement is very common in Western societies, and the causes of benign prostate hyperplasia, BPH, have been diligently sought after, there is no biological, mechanistic explanation dealing with the root causes and progression of this very common disorder among men. All treatments to date are based on symptomatic relief, not a fundamental understanding of the cause of the disease. However, recent advances have shown that even subclinical varicoceles, which are more common than generally realized, cause retrograde blood flow from the testes past the prostate gland causing over a 130-fold increase in free testosterone in the veins near the prostate. By treating the varicoceles via embolization of the internal spermatic vein and its communicating and connected vessels the prostate enlargement can be reversed with corresponding symptomatic relief. So, varicose veins in the pampiniform venous plexus, varicoceles, are the direct cause of BPH. But what causes varicoceles? Recent research has uncovered the role of vitamin K in the calcification of varicose veins as well as a role in the proliferation of smooth muscle cells in the media layer of the vein wall. Vitamin K is intimately involved in the formation of varicose veins. The hypothesis is that poor prostate health is essentially a vitamin K insufficiency disorder. By providing vitamin K in the right form and quantity, along with other supporting nutrients and phytochemicals, it is likely that excellent prostate health can be extended much longer, and perhaps poor prostate health can be reversed. A protective role for vitamin K with respect to advanced prostate cancer was already found in the Heidelberg cohort of the EPIC study. This hypothesis can be further evaluated in studies examining the connection between vitamin K and varicoceles, and also by examining the connection between varicoceles and benign prostate hyperplasia. If this hypothesis is found to be true, management of prostate health will be radically altered. Rather than focusing on prostate health as a hormonal imbalance, prostate enlargement will be seen as a result of poor health of the veins in general and the internal spermatic veins in particular. Factors which promote the health of the veins will become a greater focus of research, including the role of vitamin K. Finally, the emerging understanding of the cause of BPH will empower men to take care of their bodies so they can enjoy much better health through their entire lifespan.
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