A new study that appears in the current issue of the scientific journal Phytotherapy Research shows that grapes may protect against the loss of bladder function associated with an enlarged prostate. The antioxidant properties of grapes appear to be responsible for this protective effect.
"We are amazed at just how potent grapes appear to be in protecting against these urinary dysfunctions," said lead investigator Robert Levin, Ph.D., of the Albany College of Pharmacy. "We saw more impact with the grape preparation than with other agents tested. The results from this study are highly relevant to our male population: eating grapes every day might significantly reduce the progression of bladder dysfunction resulting from an enlarged prostate." Levin added that "the sooner men begin this regimen the more effective it would be."
Urinary bladder dysfunction resulting from an enlarged prostate is a major affliction of aging men, with more than 80 percent of men over the age of 50 seeking medical attention for it. Most people don't realize that the prostate is the only organ that continues to grow throughout life, and in doing so, gradually compresses the urethra causing the bladder to weaken. The result: increased frequency of urination, increased urgency and poor flow.
The study notes that in France, where per capita grape consumption is approximately twice that of the USA, although the incidence of enlarged prostate is similar to that of the USA, and the mean prostate sizes are the same, the prevalence of moderate-to-severe urinary symptoms in French men between 50 and 70 years of age is just 11 percent compared with 34 percent in American men.
The research showed that grapes prevented and delayed the damaging effects of ischemia and free radicals in the presence of a partial obstruction to the bladder. This work supports and extends earlier studies that showed a strong antioxidant effect and membrane-protective properties of grapes that significantly reduced and reversed bladder damage caused by a partial outlet obstruction. The beneficial effects are believed to be due to the combination of multiple active components in grapes -- not just one.
"This research furthers our understanding that fresh grapes are a significant source of beneficial phytonutrients," said Kathleen Nave, president of the California Table Grape Commission. "We are supportive of solid scientific studies such as this one, which continue to shed light on just how grapes provide their health benefits."