What Is Prostate Specific Antigen?
Published: 26th September 2023 · Written by Kate Knowler
OK, men, this blog is for you. If you haven’t already heard, September is prostate cancer awareness month, but what do you know about your prostate – the small ping-pong ball sized gland located deep in your groin – and what do you know about keeping it healthy? You may have heard of, or already been tested for, prostate specific antigen (PSA) through your GP.
But what is Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA)?
Well, PSA is a protein produced by the cells of the prostate gland. It is often tested when men are over 50 years old, or when they are experiencing prostate symptoms such as:
- Frequent urination (during the day and/or night)
- Blood in the urine or semen
- Urine leakage
- Pain or burning on urination
- Painful ejaculation
- Frequent pain/stiffness in lower back, hips, pelvic/rectal areas, or upper thighs
Some men will have raised PSA with no symptoms, making regular testing over the age of 50 important.
If asking your GP to test your PSA makes you feel uncomfortable, you can purchase a home finger prick PSA test such as our Prostate Health Test. This test will tell you whether you have raised levels of PSA.
What does it mean if my Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) is raised?
If you have a raised PSA it doesn’t necessarily mean prostate cancer – while a raised PSA may be present if prostate cancer is present, in many cases raised PSA is actually present due to a urinary tract infection (UTI), recent prostate stimulation, recent exercise, or other prostate issues such as a non-cancerous enlarged prostate (benign prostate hyperplasia, or BPH).
Should I speak to my GP if my Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) is raised on a home finger-prick test?
The short answer to this is: yes.
The longer answer to this is: if your PSA is raised on a home finger prick test such as our Prostate Health Test, you should speak with your GP who may suggest further tests such as an MRI of your prostate.
What can I do to support my prostate if my Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) is raised, but my GP says it isn’t cancer?
The good news is that there’s LOTS that you can do to support your prostate if your PSA is raised (and even if it isn’t raised – there’s always room for prevention!)
Here are a few prostate-friendly suggestions that you can start from today:
- Eat a healthy, balanced diet – lots of fruits, vegetables, and good quality proteins. All organic where possible.
- Increase your intake of oily fish – oily fish includes herring, pilchards, salmon, sardines, anchovies, and mackerel, and you should be aiming for 2 portions per week
- Regularly consume tomatoes and pumpkin seeds – cooked or sundried tomatoes are the best sources of lycopene (compared to fresh tomatoes), and research has shown that eating higher amounts of lycopene may lower your PSA level. The small but mighty pumpkin seed is a source of zinc, which has been associated with prostate health. You could even combine the two in this delicious pesto recipe
- Avoid processed and/or sugary foods – regardless of how convenient or flavoursome you find them, avoid processed foods such as fizzy drinks, takeaways, and microwavable ready meals as these will only further increase inflammation in your body.
- Reduce your exposure to chemicals – research in 2004 showed that men use an average of 6 personal care products daily (shower gel, shaving gel, aftershave etc) exposing them to approximately 85 different ingredients. And that’s before we factor in cigarette/e-cigarette vape smoke, non-organic foods, cleaning products, work-place chemical exposure, pollution…. the list of chemicals you may be exposed to each day could go on for a long time! Look at your lifestyle and make changes where you can – whether that’s trying an organic shower gel, switching to natural cleaning products, or ceasing smoking, your body will thank you for every small change you make.
If you have any of the symptoms of raised Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) or are aged over 50, consider getting your PSA tested by your GP or privately, such as our Prostate Health Test. Raised levels don’t necessarily mean cancer, but you should speak to your GP if your levels are raised so that they can test further and/or monitor changes in your PSA levels.