Risk Factors for Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH)

A physician points to the prostate on an anatomical model.

Risk Factors for Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH)

Summary: Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH), or an enlarged prostate, affects many men as they age, leading to potentially serious health issues if untreated. Recognizing both modifiable and non-modifiable risk factors can be crucial for prevention and management.

  • What is BPH? An enlarged prostate gland causing urinary and other issues.
  • Complications: Includes urinary problems, UTIs, bladder damage, and possibly even kidney damage if it gets too severe.
  • Risk Factors: Modifiable (obesity, diabetes, lack of physical activity) and non-modifiable (age, genetics, geography). Addressing modifiable risk factors may reduce the potential for BPH.
  • Treatment Options: Medication, surgery, and minimally invasive procedures.

Benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), also called an enlarged prostate, is a common concern for men as they age.
When left untreated, this condition can lead to quality-of-life issues as well as more severe health concerns. Those include bladder damage and recurring urinary tract infections (UTIs).

As is the case with many other diseases, BPH is associated with certain risk factors. Some of these factors are non-modifiable. They cannot be addressed through lifestyle changes or other means.

However, other BPH risk factors can be mitigated. That means potentially reducing the risk of experiencing BPH and the many complications that can come along with this condition.

Keep reading to learn more about risk factors for BPH. We’ll share a brief overview of BPH, then take a closer look at both modifiable and non-modifiable risk factors. Crucially, we will also review potential treatment options for this condition.


An illustration shows a healthy prostate and an enlarged prostate.

What is BPH?

The prostate gland, which sits below the bladder and surrounds part of the urethra, naturally grows over time. However, excessive growth of the prostate and the tissue surrounding it, called BPH, can cause a range of complications.

The difference between normal prostate growth over time and BPH is relatively easy to understand. As the Urology Care Foundation explains, “As you age, your prostate may get larger. BPH is when it gets large enough to cause problems.”

It’s important to understand that BPH is distinct from prostate cancer. Both issues affect the prostate, some symptoms overlap, and certain tests for prostate cancer can be influenced by BPH. However, BPH is not cancerous.

Complications of BPH

Many complications of BPH are related to the bladder and urethra — the lower urinary tract.

Prostate growth can compress the urethra, making it more difficult for the urethra to open and for urine to pass through. The excess tissue growth caused by BPH is an obstacle to fully and easily emptying the bladder.

This leads to a variety of more specific issues that have a negative influence on overall quality of life. Johns Hopkins Medicine shares a list of several of these BPH symptoms. BPH complications include, but are not limited to:

  • Delayed onset of urination. It may take more time than a person feels is normal to begin urinating.
  • Increased frequency of urination and urge to urinate. Individuals suffering from BPH can experience a sudden, pressing need to urinate as well as a need to urinate more frequently.
  • Weak urine stream. The pressure placed on the urethra can reduce the force with which urine leaves the body, leading to a weakened stream or starting and stopping of urination.
  • Nocturia. This issue refers to a frequent need to urinate at night, disrupting normal sleep patterns.

If BPH is left untreated, it can lead to urine being retained within the bladder. This can cause more serious complications. Recurring urinary tract infections, bladder stones, irreversable bladder damage, and kidney damage are all possible. Eventually, some men need urinary catheters to allow them to empty their bladder.

Treating BPH before these more serious issues arise is crucial for long-term health. Testing, consultation with a physician, and treatment are all steps men can take to address BPH and avoid or reduce the impact of these complications.


A man holds his groin, indicating symptoms related to BPH.

BPH Causes and Risk Factors

What causes BPH? As the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases explains, the exact cause of BPH is not yet clear. Theories about the causes of BPH focus on hormonal imbalances that occur as men age and the body’s production of hormones changes.

While we do not yet understand the precise cause of BPH, several risk factors related to it have been identified through research. These can be divided into two distinct categories: modifiable and non-modifiable risk factors.

Non-modifiable BPH Risk Factors

A non-modifiable risk factor cannot be addressed through lifestyle changes, taking medication, or other activities. However, recognizing the presence or absence of these factors may help to contextualize the risk of developing BPH.

An article published in the peer-reviewed Indian Journal of Urology lists three main non-modifiable risk factors of BPH:

1. Age

In general, BPH becomes more common as men age. This is in part due to the natural growth of the prostate over time. Hormonal imbalances that occur with age may also play a role.

This condition is uncommon at age 40 and below. However, as Yale Medicine points out, about half of all men age 51-60 have BPH. By age 70 and beyond, about 80% of men have BPH.

2. Genetics

Family history may play a role in the development of BPH. An analysis published in the journal Urology found family history of this disease is associated with an increased risk of BPH. It seems that parents can pass along an increased risk of BPH to their children.

3. Geography

Men in the Western world tend to have significantly higher prostate volumes than men from Southeast Asia. Along with genetics, geography also plays a role in the risk of developing BPH.

Modifiable BPH Risk Factors

While some benign prostatic hyperplasia risk factors cannot be modified or mitigated, others can. The following risk factors for BPH can be addressed through lifestyle modifications, medication, and other means.


Obesity can contribute to a variety of medical issues, including BPH. A comprehensive literature review published in the Journal of Urology
found a relationship between BPH and obesity.

Dietary changes, exercise, and consultation with a physician may help to reduce this risk factor. Ultimately, losing weight can be a beneficial health change in general and specifically for BPH.


In simple terms, diabetes causes too much sugar to stay in your bloodstream. This occurs because the body has difficulty producing or using insulin, which helps convert sugar into energy. Diabetes can cause a variety of medical issues, including heart disease, vision loss, and if untreated, death.

Diabetes also appears to have a connection to BPH. A review published in the journal Current Urology Reports explains that “epidemiologic evidence suggests that diabetes significantly increases the risks of BPH and lower urinary tract symptoms [LUTS].”

Treating diabetes and making lifestyle changes to prevent the occurrence of diabetes can help to reduce this BPH risk factor.

Lack of Physical Activity

A lack of physical activity, also called a sedentary lifestyle, appears to contribute to the risk of developing BPH. A research review published in the journal European Urology concluded that physical activity reduces the risk of developing BPH.

Active lifestyles can offer broad health benefits and, in particular, help to address this BPH risk factor. When choosing physical activities, our suggestion is to avoid road biking. This activity can inflame or aggravate the prostate. If you choose to bike on roads, use a well-cushioned seat, padded shorts, and other protective measures.


Inflammation is part of the body’s natural response to an irritant or potential threat. Chronic and acute inflammation may also contribute to the excessive growth of the prostate in BPH, as a research review published in the journal Reviews in Urology explains.

Reducing inflammation may prevent or limit the growth of tissue in the prostate and surrounding area, which can ultimately lead to BPH.

Treatment Options for BPH

BPH often involves slow, gradual changes. That can make it difficult to notice those changes and consult with a physician about how to treat this disease.

For this reason, it’s important to pay attention to changes in urinary patterns and behaviors. Similarly, screening is especially valuable for identifying BPH before its symptoms progress too far.

Treatment for BPH may not mean a return to the same urinary function as that of a young man. However, successful treatment can prevent further damage, alleviate symptoms, and improve quality of life.

Medication is the first line of active treatment for BPH. Medicines for BPH may relax the prostate muscle or decrease hormone production to slow prostate growth, as the Cleveland Clinic explains.

However, medication can have unpleasant side effects and is more useful in the early stages of this disease. Advanced BPH may require surgery. In these cases, minimally invasive surgical procedures such as TULSA-PRO and focal laser ablation (FLA) can prove valuable.

In comparison with traditional surgical procedures, TULSA-PRO and FLA can offer reduced risk for certain side effects.

A conversation with your physician is the first step to treating BPH. If minimally invasive procedures are the right course of treatment, Prostate Laser Center may be able to help. Deep experience in the use of minimally invasive surgery for enlarged prostate tissue empowers our physicians to provide effective treatment.

Seeking treatment options for BPH? Request a consultation today.

NOTE: The information provided on this website is general medical information and does not establish a physician-patient relationship. Please discuss your particular situation with a qualified medical professional.

Interested in our treatment options?

Request a Free Consultation