Sexual Activity And Risk Of Prostate Cancer
Prostate cancer is the most frequently reported malignancy that affects more than 180,800 men each year in the United States alone (1). According to latest estimates, more than 14% men will develop prostate malignancy at some point of their life (1). Fortunately, due to advancements in the diagnostic and therapeutic medicine, the mortality is generally low, especially if the cancer is detected at an earlier age. But nevertheless, prostate malignancy can greatly compromise the quality of sex and reproductive life.
Sexual Activity And Prostate Cancer – What Is The Association?
Due to extremely high prevalence and resulting deleterious effects on the fertility, the pathophysiology of prostate cancer has always been a hot topic for research. It was once believed that increased sexual activity can aggravate the risk of prostate cancer (2). The experts explained following two mechanisms to explain the association:
- Androgenic activity: Increased sexual frequency is directly related to high androgenic activity (or high testosterone levels), which can promote carcinogenesis (2).
- Increased risk of sexually transmitted infections: Another popular pathological association was STDs. People who engage more frequently in sexual activity are more likely to develop infections, which may promote carcinogenesis (3).
In fact according to a new meta-analysis reported in the Epidemiologic Reviews (3), investigators reported a higher risk of prostate malignancy in older men with increased sexual activity (more than three times per week).
At an average, about 38% of the elderly population (older than 60 years of age), engages at least 1-4 times per month in the sexual activity (4). Clinical data indicates that although libido decreases significantly with advancing age, many men continue to maintain a healthy sexual life even in their 80s. In fact about 14% of the elderly population admitted to engaging in 5 or more sexual encounters per month (4). Since the risk of prostate malignancy increases with advancing age, it is very important to investigate if prostate cancer is linked to higher sexual activity.
Does Increased Sexual Activity Makes You More Vulnerable To Develop Prostate Cancer?
The answer is No. According to latest medical research reported in the Journal of American Medical Association (5), high frequency of sex is not associated with a higher risk of developing prostate malignancy. The prospective study in which investigators utilized the data and information from the Health Professionals Follow-up Study (1992-2000), it was observed that higher sexual activity (up to 21 times per month or more) is in fact protective against prostate cancer. Ejaculatory frequency refers to nocturnal emissions, masturbation as well as ejaculation after the sexual intercourse. The results of the study and inferences drawn are valuable because:
- Different subsets of the population were considered; such as middle aged men 46 – 59 years) and elderly men (60 – 81 years)
- Data regarding ejaculatory frequency across different stages of life was calculated and considered during regression analysis; such as, younger days (20 – 29 years), middle aged (40 – 49 years) and past month.
- The sample size (29,342) made the inferences relevant.
There is no proper explanation as to why increased sexual activity associated with a lower risk of malignancy, but investigators believes that higher ejaculatory frequency helps in preventing the accumulation of toxins in the gland; which reduces the risk of inflammation and carcinogenesis. In addition, high sexual activity is a marker of healthy prostate function. In other words, the chances of early detection of cancer is higher in men who have an active sex life. Various other clinical studies also suggests that maintaining a healthy sex life can have positive effects on physical, emotional and reproductive health.
1. Siegel, R. L., Miller, K. D., & Jemal, A. (2015). Cancer statistics, 2015. CA: a cancer journal for clinicians, 65(1), 5-29.
2. Krain, L. S. (1974). Some epidemiologic variables in prostatic carcinoma in California. Preventive medicine, 3(1), 154-159.
3. Strickler, H. D., & Goedert, J. J. (2015). Sexual behavior and evidence for an infectious cause of prostate cancer. Epidemiologic reviews, 23(1), 144-51.
4. Marsiglio, W., & Donnelly, D. (1991). Sexual relations in later life: a national study of married persons. Journal of Gerontology, 46(6), S338-S344.
5. Leitzmann, M. F., Platz, E. A., Stampfer, M. J., Willett, W. C., & Giovannucci, E. (2004). Ejaculation frequency and subsequent risk of prostate cancer. Jama, 291(13), 1578-1586.