by Staff writer
Men who ejaculate often may have a lower risk of prostate cancer than their peers who don’t do it as frequently, a U.S. study suggests.
Researchers followed about 32,000 men starting in 1992 when they were in their 20s and continuing through 2010. During this period, almost 4,000 of the men were diagnosed with prostate cancer.
Men who ejaculated at least 21 times a month in their 20s were 19 percent less likely to be diagnosed with prostate cancer than men who ejaculated no more than seven times a month, the study found.
Men who ejaculated more often in their 40s were 22 percent less likely to get a prostate cancer diagnosis.
“Ejaculation frequency is, to some extent, a measure of overall health status in that men at the very low end of ejaculation – 0 to 3 times per month – were more likely to have other (medical problems) and die prematurely from causes other than prostate cancer,” said lead study author Jennifer Rider, who did the analysis while working at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in Boston.
|Frequent ejaculation through sex or masturbation might lower the risk of prostate cancer|
“While our findings should be confirmed in studies that evaluate the potential biological mechanisms underlying the observed associations, the results of our study suggest that ejaculation and safe sexual activity throughout adulthood could be a beneficial strategy for reducing the risk of prostate cancer,” Rider, now at Boston University, added by email.
Prostate cancer accounts for 15 percent of all new cancer diagnoses worldwide, the researchers note in the journal European Urology. Established risk factors like age, race and family history are not “modifiable,” they add, and there are few lifestyle changes that can be recommended to men to lower risk.
To understand the connection between ejaculation frequency and cancer, Rider and colleagues reviewed data from questionnaires men completed about sexual health and examined medical records and lab tests to verify which participants were diagnosed with prostate tumors.
During the study period, there were 192 cases of prostate cancer among men who ejaculated no more than three times a month. There were 1,041 cases with 4 to 7 ejaculations a month, and 1,509 cases with 8 to 12 monthly ejaculations, another 807 cases with 13 to 20 ejaculations a month and 290 cases with at least 21 monthly ejaculations.
One limitation of the study is that it relied on men to accurately recall and report how often they ejaculated, the authors note.
The study also included mostly white men, and it’s possible the results might look different in a more diverse population.