March 14th, 2014
As an important part of human behavior and healthy relationships, we have discussed the benefits of sexual activity in prior posts. Besides serving a reproductive purpose,effects of sex has been linked to some major benefits for us humans. It has shown to be beneficial for cardiovascular health, improve mood, and even aid losing weight. One question that has not been discussed before is the link between effects of sex and prostate cancer in men.
Several theories do exists about the link between effects of sex and cancer of the prostate gland. Before continuing it needs to be mentioned that the scientists differentiate sex and masturbation in regards of their effects on prostate health. Today we would like to only address the correlation between romantic sexual relations and prostate cancer.
One of the theories speaking for frequent sexual activity being a risk factor for developing prostate cancer is the provocative effect of the male hormone testosterone which is believed to be high in especially sexually active male with a high libido. Another reason making epidemiologists believe in frequent sexual activity being a cause of prostate cancer is the higher risk of contracting sexually transmitted diseases in men who frequently engage in sexual relations. Sexually transmitted diseases are known to affect the genitals and the prostate gland, causing acute or chronic prostate inflammation and irritation and providing the aggravating factors for developing prostate cancer.
While the above noted theories seem to prove frequent sexual activity to be a cause or being associated to developing prostate cancer, other group of researchers believe the contrary: frequent sexual activity cleans the prostate gland and the internal pipes, removing cell derbies, bacteria, and everything else that might be sitting in the prostate causing chronic irritation and eventually cancer. So frequent sex is actually protective against prostate cancer?
When it comes to clinical studies, well-constructed randomized studies with a large number of participants do usually deliver more comprehensive numbers which can be associated with the actual conditions in the general population.
In 1992, the epidemiologists Michael Leitzmann and Elizabeth A. Platz, Sc.D. at Harvard University, and colleagues at the National Cancer Institute conducted a very large Health Professionals Follow-up Study with nearly 30,000 men participating. The researchers asked men who did not have prostate cancer to report their typical number of ejaculations per month in their twenties, forties, and during the past year. They followed the participants from which about 1,500 developed prostate cancer over the next eight years. The finding of the study was then reported as such: “… men who reported more ejaculations (more than 21 a month, on average across their adult life) had two thirds the lifetime risk of prostate cancer of men who reported fewer (4 to 7) ejaculations a month…Compared with men reporting fewer ejaculations per month at all ages, men who reported 21 or ejaculations per month had one-fourth the risk of prostate cancer.“
This and a similarly well-conducted study considering certain factors such as age, frequency of ejaculation reported before developing prostate cancer, and history of sexually transmitted diseases for sure speak for frequent sex and ejaculation as being protective against developing cancer of the prostate.
The study was led by Graham Giles of The Cancer Council Victoria in Melbourne and his team who asked 1079 men with prostate cancer about the details of their sexual habits, and compared their responses with those of 1259 healthy men of the same age. The conclusion made by the team was that men with more frequent ejaculations between the ages of 20 and 50, are less likely to develop prostate cancer. The researchers further noted that the protective effect is greatest while men are in their twenties: those who had ejaculated more than five times per week in their twenties were one-third less likely to develop aggressive prostate cancer later in life (BJU International, vol 92, p 211).
For sure further studies about effects of sex will be publish as we advance in time, but the more comprehensive studies noted above indicate that frequent sexual activity might be, or is believed to be, protective against the development of prostate cancer in men at a later age.