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Researchers Working on a Nonsurgical Treatment For Enlarged Prostate

Update Date: Jun 24, 2014 09:04 AM EDT

Pulsed electromagnetic field therapy (PEMF) can significantly reduce the size of the prostate starting after just one week of treatment, according to a new study. The newly devised therapy is totally non-invasive, drug-free and the treatment is quick and painless. 

The findings of the study are finally offering some hope as an alternative to surgery for treating enlarged prostate. 

Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH) is one of the most frequently diagnosed medical disorders in older men and affects quality of life for a third of men over 50. In US alone, people spend $3.9 billion annually on its complications. 

"Benign prostatic hyperplasia is an important and under-recognized health issue for men. There is a great need for development of effective and safe alternatives to current treatment options," noted Abraham Morgentaler, MD, FACS, Director of Men's Health Boston and Associate Clinical Professor of Urology at Harvard Medical School, in the press release. 

Pulsed electromagnetic field therapy is a very low frequency pulsed energy waves which is often used to speed recovery or to reduce post-surgical side effects. The device producing energy is a handheld device, little wider than a TV remote control. It has been also used safely and effectively in humans for treating other conditions, like circulatory problems. However, researchers are yet to explain how exactly it works. 

"Previous studies have suggested that reduced blood flow to the prostate gland and resulting inflammation contribute to the development of BPH. We know that PEMF has positive effects on similar conditions, so we thought it might also heal BPH or maybe even prevent BPH from developing," said lead scientist on the study, Dr. Raffaella Leoci. 

Researchers in their trial, treated 20 affected dogs with PEMF for 5 minutes, twice a day for three weeks and found that their size of the prostate gland decreased on average by 57 percent. 

"Traditionally, dogs affected by symptomatic BPH were treated like men, using drugs or surgery," explained Dr. Leoci. "Reproduction becomes impossible as both therapies, pharmacological or surgical, arrest the production of testosterone. This can be a problem for working or breeding dogs."

"Many men are interested in minimally invasive therapies for lower urinary tract symptoms," noted Alan Shindel, MD, Assistant Professor of Urology at UC Davis Health System in the press release. "It would be great to have a new option such as pulsed electromagnetic field therapy for BPH. This preliminary study in an animal model is promising, but more research is needed to determine how effective (and safe) this procedure would be in human men."

The study is published in the online version of the journal The Prostate. 

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