Prostate Home > Cause of Enlarged Prostate
No one knows specifically why an enlarged prostate occurs. However, hormones and genetics may play a role in the condition's development. Some researchers believe that it may be related to a drop in testosterone levels as men age. Others believe that one enlarged prostate cause is the "reawakening" of cells that deliver signals to other cells in the prostate.
The cause of an enlarged prostate (benign prostatic hyperplasia, or BPH) is not well understood. No definite information about risk factors for this condition exists. For centuries, it has been known that an enlarged prostate occurs mainly in older men and that it doesn't develop in men whose testes were removed before puberty. For this reason, some researchers believe that factors related to aging and the testes may be factors in the development of this condition.
Throughout their lives, men produce both testosterone (an important male hormone) and small amounts of estrogen (a female hormone). As men age, the amount of active testosterone in the blood decreases, leaving a higher proportion of estrogen. Studies done with animals have suggested that an enlarged prostate may occur because the higher amount of estrogen within the gland increases the activity of substances that promote cell growth.
Another theory focuses on dihydrotestosterone (DHT), a substance derived from testosterone in the prostate, which may help control its growth. Most animals lose their ability to produce DHT as they age. However, some research has indicated that even with a drop in the blood's testosterone level, older men continue to produce and accumulate high levels of DHT in the prostate. This accumulation of DHT may encourage the growth of cells. Scientists have also noted that men who do not produce DHT do not develop BPH.