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Coffee, Balding, Masturbation and a Few Other Keys to a Healthy Prostate

The prostate is a real motherfucker. Some proof: About one in seven men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer during his lifetime. And though it’s true that prostate cancer develops mainly in older men — about 60 percent of the men with it are 65 or older — that doesn’t mean you should wait until your second mid-life crisis to start thinking about the health of that tiny gland below your bladder. Especially if you’re planning on saving some erections for retirement. So without further ado, here are five ways (and one bonus technique!) to help keep your prostate as healthy as that motherfucker can be.

Coffee. According to a recent study published in the International Journal of Cancer, drinking more than three cups of coffee a day lowers your likelihood of prostate cancer by 53 percent. Specifically, the study looked at two human prostate cancer cell lines in nearly 7,000 men — all at the age of 50 — to test the effect of Italian-style coffee (meaning espresso-based) on them. After four years, those men who drank the most coffee every day had the lowest prostate cancer risk compared to others who drank less than two cups a day.

Balding. In a 2009 National Cancer Institute study of about 19,000 men, researchers found that the men who took 5 milligrams of Propecia, aka finasteride, daily for seven years had a 25 percent lower risk of prostate cancer than those taking a placebo. (Finasteride blocks production of dihydrotestosterone, a hormone that triggers hair loss and prostate growth.) “It’s the first study to prove that prostate cancer is preventable,” explained Peter Greenwald, the NCI’s Director of Cancer Prevention and one of the studies participants, in an interview with the National Center for Biotechnology Information. “My prostate is normal,” he added. That said, men on finasteride had a slightly greater chance of being diagnosed with a more aggressive form of the disease than the placebo group.

A Mediterranean Diet. Beyond how they take their coffee, there’s another good reason why Western European men have lower prostate-cancer rates than American men; namely, new research suggests that certain staples of the Mediterranean diet have prostate-cancer-fighting properties. For starters, a recent study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute shows that men who eat more than 10 grams of garlic or scallions daily (about three cloves of garlic or 2 tablespoons of scallions) have a 50 percent lower risk of prostate cancer than those who eat less than 2 grams. The credit goes to the organosulfur compounds contained therein, which are common to both vegetables.

Then there’s all the red wine they drink. Red grapes are flush with resveratrol, an antioxidant found in some plants that may help inhibit the growth of prostate cancer, according to a report from the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center. However: “If you drink too much,” says Catherine O’Brian, the study’s lead author told Science Daily, “you can neutralize the beneficial effects.” Her definition of too much: More than a couple of glasses a day.

Jerking Off. A 2009 Australian study found that DIY sex may also help prevent prostate cancer. The study of 2,338 men showed that the guys who masturbated five or more times a week were 34 percent less likely to develop prostate cancer by age 70 than those who took matters into their own hands less frequently. “Seminal fluid contains substances that are carcinogenic,” said Graham Giles, the study’s lead author, in an interview with HarvardProstateKnowledge.org. “Regular ejaculation may help flush them out.” Sex works, too. Just make sure your partner’s been tested for cytomegalovirus, a type of herpes recently found in cancerous prostate tissue.

Spices. Researchers at the Center for Holistic Urology at Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center in New York City found that a blend of herbs including ginger, oregano, rosemary and green tea reduced prostate-cancer cell growth by 78 percent. (They termed it Zyflamend.) It’s thought to inhibit the activity of COX-2, a protein linked to the progression of the disease. “We’re using it with promising results in some of our patients,” Aaron Katz, the center’s director, told NPR.

Another herbal option is FBL 101. When researchers at the National Cancer Institute gave FBL 101 to mice with prostate cancer, they found it decreased tumors to undetectable levels. As William Figg, the principal investigator, explained to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, “Men who want to delay the time before they begin traditional treatment should check this out.”