Written By Dr. Raphael Nyarkotey Obu - I bring you greetings from Bolgatanga in the Upper east region of Ghana. On the 26th of September, I embarked on a journey as a result of an invitation I received from a division one football club called Tanga FC. I was very excited to receive such an invitation as the journey was my first experience to go to the northern sector to raise awareness on prostate cancer and offer free testing program there. Out of curiosity, I boarded an OA travel and Tour bus because I was informed it is the best for such a long journey. The journey I was told before I set off will take about fifteen hours.
Well, I left Accra around 12noon and got to Bolgatanga the following day at 4am and straight to my hotel- TAP, located in Soe. The management of the hotel and the entire football team were awesome people. The program dubbed” Men united against prostate cancer” was aim to raise awareness and offer testing program in the north by FC Tanga to give back to their fans for supporting the club in the league. The program was also supported by A1 radio, Tanga radio, Ai energy, TAP Hotel and some I forgot. Forgive me.
Related: Bolgatanga: A Cold Spot For Prostate cancer – Part 2
I took this opportunity to research into the disease amongst the men in Bolgatanga. I was amazed myself because of what I saw in the men after the screening. I want to share this research finding with you from the region. Well, 100 men were projected to benefit from the free testing after they received expert talk on the disease. The testing was an informed decision. 65 men were provided a special form designed by FC Tanga to go in for the testing and those who did not have the form were also made to go for the testing for twenty cedis.
In this article you realized that I used ‘Testing’ instead of ‘screening’. Prostate cancer screening is unreliable because no specific test exits to detect prostate cancer so the test was conducted to assess the men’s risk of prostate disease in the region that is whether Benign condition or cancer. The methodology involved two approaches: ultrasound and PSA. The testing involved prostate ultrasound using the transabdominal approach: where men have to drink more water to fill their bladder to provide acoustic viewing of their prostate before assessment to check the volume or weight of their prostate size. A prostate size of 1.5- 40grams is considered to be in the normal range so any increment outside this jurisdiction is termed BPH or enlarged prostate. As part of our testing, Men’s Health Foundation don’t involve digital rectal exam as most of the black men we realized are not conversant with that procedure.
We also took their blood sample to check their Prostate specific Antigen in their blood. Although the PSA is not specific to tumor but organ specific we use it for prostate health assessment to also see what is wrong with men prostate health. The prostate gland produces the PSA for several beneficiary purposes and not necessary as a response to cancer. The PSA for prostate cancer is a very controversial subject for screening but the best marker for the cancer monitoring or progression for those diagnosed with the disease. A PSA baseline of 0-4ng/ml is considered normal or low risk of prostate cancer. So the higher the PSA the higher your chances of getting let say prostate cancer but it could also be any other prostate condition. Controversy also exists for the cut off range for black men.
The testing was for men 35years with those with family history of the disease, 40years and above for those with no family history but are concerned about the disease. The result will amaze you. After the testing no man in the region had a prostate size above 40grams to be considered for Benign prostate hyperplasia (BPH) leading to prostate enlargement. The highest prostate size in the region amongst the 100 men was 38.2grams. The highest age of the men who came for the testing was 65years. The lowest prostate volume was also seen in a man in his sixties-3.2grams. Interesting enough about 90% of the men are also okay with their urinary health. But anyway, the men are okay with their sex life they still wanted something to be done about their sex life.
The lowest PSA found amongst them was 0.2ng/ml and highest PSA was 2.0ng/ml and seen in the men 40 to 65yrs and this is the age considered for prostate conditions. So the question is: what could be accounting for the good prostate health of these men in Bolgatanga? This is an area where there are no programs for awareness and testing. In fact, there are practically no screening programs or any organization has embarked on such a project to help them before I entered into the region. A region where Mammograms are also not available to women to check their breast health. A region where the people relied on herbal centers more than orthodox ones.
Well, as part of my research I took to the street of Bolgatanga using the ‘Keke’ to help raise awareness and study their living conditions. I went to most of their bars. You see, cancer is a spectrum of diseases and not a single entity. There are so many factors and aggressive lifestyle changes are needed to fight it. On the street of Bolgatanga, you see more motorbikes than cars. Every home has one compared to Accra or other regions of the country. In Accra, people are always in their cars with fully air-conditioned. The street and Bolgatanga itself is very hot with the sunlight blazing the region. Accra is polluted with heavy chemicals. In the morning and afternoon you see on the street people on motorbikes this exposed them also to the sunlight. They might get their right amount of the Vitamin D needed to fight against prostate and other forms of the cancers from it. Whether midmorning sunlight or midday sunlight they are on their motorbikes.
Probably, as you are regarding them as the Bolga men, the Bolga man is enjoying good prostate health. Whiles you have codenamed them the jungle effect with the jungle diet, they have excellent prostate health. I know at this point this research can make you think far but don’t think far to go into madness. You don’t have to travel to Bolga to have excellent prostate health you can do it right here in Accra.
Compare this to Accra and other parts of the country, you will see obituaries of young men and women in their twenties even dying young. In Bolgatanga, the only Obituary I saw was a man and he was 78years. I saw aged men and women all over walking on the street, in their homes and riding motorbikes,
So I was wondering and I asked myself, why are so many elderly people in Accra and even the young men so unhealthy and reliant on drugs? Why are we not vital until old age like the Bolgatanga people in the Upper eastern region of Ghana with excellent prostate health?
We eat far too much poor quality, devitalized food. True - it appears that the food we eat has no immediate effect on our health. But, the cumulative result of poor food choices adds up little by little over time and takes its toll.
Why do the relatively poor native populations in this country have such low levels of the chronic diseases that plague the others?
Why the rate of prostate disorders in Upper east—a region where lifeless weather is the norm—so low?
We cannot discharge all the toxins quick enough and as a result we get problems as we age. It is no wonder what causes prostate diseases!
In the case of men a growing number now get prostate diseases: enlarged prostate, prostate cancer and prostatitis.
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