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.
Prostate cancer occurs more often in African-American men and in Caribbean men of African ancestry than in men of other races. African-American men are also more than twice as likely to die of prostate cancer as white men. Prostate cancer occurs less often in Asian-American and Hispanic/Latino men than in non-Hispanic whites. The reasons for these racial and ethnic differences are not clear.
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% less likely to get a prostate cancer diagnosis.
Prostate cancer accounts for 15% 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.
Researchers do not know exactly what causes prostate cancer. But they have found some risk factors and are trying to learn just how these factors cause prostate cells to become cancer.
On a basic level, prostate cancer is caused by changes in the DNA of a normal prostate cell. DNA is the chemical in our cells that makes up our genes. Our genes control how our cells function. We usually look like our parents because they are the source of our DNA. But DNA affects more than just how we look.
Content for this article provided by Reuters and the American Cancer Society.