Can lots of safe sex keep men from getting prostate cancer? Researchers say maybe.
In the largest study to date that looks at prostate health and ejaculation, researchers at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health found men who ejaculated at least 21 times a month had a 20% lower risk of prostate cancer.
“Regular ejaculation is encouraged for a variety of health reasons, but now there’s more evidence it may decrease the risk of prostate cancer,” said Timothy G. Schuster, MD, FACS, a urologist with ProMedica Genito-Urinary Surgeons. “It’s one of the things we can suggest when men ask how they can prevent prostate cancer.”
Researchers reviewed 18 years of data from nearly 32,000 men in the Health Professional Follow-up Study. At the start of the project in 1992, men were asked to report their average monthly ejaculation rate during the ages of 20 – 29 and 40 – 49 and the previous year. The information was used to calculate a lifetime average.
After controlling for other factors such as BMI, diet, exercise, divorce, and prostate cancer screening, the risk of prostate cancer was lower in men who ejaculated frequently.
“I suspect it has something to do with the ejaculate,” said Dr. Schuster. “Whether it’s a direct irritation or some metabolite that’s in the fluid, if you’re not regularly ejaculating, it’s sitting there and not being drained.”
The research, which is an update of a study published 10 years ago, was presented in May at the American Urological Association 2015 Annual Meeting in New Orleans. Study leaders said more research is needed to determine exactly how ejaculation reduces the risk of prostate cancer.
Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men, following skin cancer. The American Cancer Society estimates more than 220,000 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2015.