Is Prostate Cancer connected to how often you ejaculate?
Despite the importance of prostate cancer, its causes remain unknown. Scientists do know that genetics plays a strong role, and they have sound evidence that diet and other lifestyle factors are also important.
Since the prostate is a reproductive organ that produces fluid for the ejaculate, researchers have long wondered if sexual factors influence a man’s risk of prostate cancer, but a Harvard study provides good news for sexually active men.
Frequent ejaculations (20+ times or more per month) can significantly reduce your chances of getting prostate cancer later in life.
The Harvard Study
The Health Professionals Follow-Up Study has been collecting information about a large group of volunteers since 1986. All the men are health care providers, including dentists, pharmacists, veterinarians, optometrists, ophthalmologists, and podiatrists.
Most are white. In 1992, 29,342 men between the ages of 46 and 81 provided information about their average number of ejaculations per month in young adulthood (age 20–29), middle age (40–49), and in the most recent year. Ejaculations included sexual intercourse, nocturnal emissions, and masturbation. The volunteers provided comprehensive health and lifestyle data every two years until the study concluded in 2000.
The scientists found no evidence that frequent ejaculations mark an increased risk of prostate cancer. In fact, the reverse was true: High ejaculation frequency was linked to a decreased risk.
Compared to men who reported 4–7 ejaculations per month across their lifetimes, men who ejaculated 21 or more times a month enjoyed a 31% lower risk of prostate cancer. And the results held up to rigorous statistical evaluation even after other lifestyle factors and the frequency of PSA testing were taken into account.
Data from the land Down Under.
An Australian study of 2,338 men examined the impact of sexual factors on the occurrence of prostate cancer before the age of 70. Like the Harvard research, the Australian investigation evaluated total ejaculations rather than sexual intercourse itself.
Like the American men, the Australians who ejaculated most frequently enjoyed a reduced risk of prostate cancer. The effect was strongest for the frequency of ejaculations in young adulthood, even though prostate cancer was not diagnosed until many decades later.
Even so, the apparent protection extended to all age groups. In all, men who averaged 4.6–7 ejaculations a week were 36% less likely to be diagnosed with prostate cancer before the age of 70 than men who ejaculated less than 2.3 times a week on average.
Other possible links.
The Australian study did not measure testosterone levels, but the Harvard study did. It found that men who ejaculated frequently tended to have higher testosterone levels than those who ejaculated less often — yet these were the same men who had a reduced risk of prostate cancer. Therefore, if there is any adverse effect of male hormones, it is offset by some protective effects linked to frequent ejaculation. Further study is needed to investigate possible protective mechanisms; in theory, at least, emptying the prostate of potentially irritating or harmful substances might be one such mechanism.
The Harvard study did not evaluate the number of sexual partners reported by the volunteers, but the Australian study did. It found no association, but an earlier study of 1,456 men living in King County, Washington, did find a link. Men who had sex with 30 or more women over their lifetime were two to three times more likely to develop prostate cancer than men with only one partner. Thirty partners may sound like a lot, but boasting did not seem to boost a man’s risk, since even a more modest exposure to two to four partners was associated with a 1.7-fold increase in subsequent prostate cancer.
The Harvard study did not report an effect of marital status, but the Australian research suggested that men who had never married may be at lower risk of prostate cancer than men who were married, divorced, or widowed. However, an American study of 146,979 men found that among men with diagnosed prostate cancer, those who were married had a better outcome than those who were divorced, widowed, or single. The researchers at the University of Miami who performed the study did not determine if sexual activity was involved in apparent protection, but since the subjects were elderly men with prostate cancer, it’s unlikely.
So what does all this scientific mumbo jumbo mean to you? Well, the bottom line is this – if you’re a man and you have a penis – then there’s a really good chance that ejaculating frequently will improve your overall health, and specifically reduce your chances of developing prostate cancer.
While more research needs to be done – what we know at this point is that ejaculating 20 or more times per month can reduce your chances of prostate cancer by almost 40% – and that’s nothing to sneeze at.
Harvard Health Publishing – Harvard Medical School – “Ejaculation Frequency and Prostate Cancer, Published March, 2014
Andrews L. Conscious ejaculation; a key to men’s vitality. Dr. Lia Andrews 2013 Nov 18
Jiang M et al. A research on the relationship between ejaculation and serum testosterone level in men. Journal of Zheijiang University. Science 2003 Mar-Apr; 4(2): 236-40