Does frequent ejaculation reduce prostate cancer risk?
About 1 in 7 men in the United States will be diagnosed with prostate cancer during their lifetime. As prostate cancer is so common, being aware of the risk factors is important. This article explores whether frequent ejaculation can reduce the risk of prostate cancer.
Is there a link?
Despite numerous studies being conducted, the link between frequent ejaculation and reduced prostate cancer risk is not conclusive.
In recent years there have been a number of articles that claim ejaculating more often can reduce the risk of prostate cancer. While these claims might sound like sensationalized headlines, they may be supported in part by scientific evidence.
What the research says
According to a 2016 study in European Eurology, men who ejaculate more frequently are less likely to develop prostate cancer, compared to those who ejaculate less often.
The research from 2016 was a follow-up to a 2004 study, which came to a similar conclusion. Both studies found that the risk of prostate cancer may be reduced for men who ejaculate 21 times or more per month. This was compared with men who only ejaculated 4-7 times a month.
Other studies uncovered some conflicting evidence. Researchers disagree whether ejaculating more often makes men of all ages less likely to get prostate cancer.
A 2008 study found that frequent masturbation was only linked with a decreased risk of prostate cancer in men over 50. Researchers in this study found that men in their 20s and 30s who ejaculated more often were actually at an increased risk of prostate cancer.
In contrast, a 2003 study from Australia found that men who frequently ejaculated as young men had a reduced rate of prostate cancer.
More research needed
From all the research conclusions that are available, the evidence may point to a link between increased frequency of ejaculation and a man's risk of prostate cancer.
However, due to the inconsistent and contradictory conclusions, more research is needed to determine if frequent ejaculation decreases prostate cancer risk in men of all ages.
A person should discuss which factors may increase their risk of developing prostate cancer.
Being aware of prostate cancer risk factors can help men understand their likelihood of developing it.
According to the American Society of Clinical Oncology, the following factors make it more likely for men to develop prostate cancer:
- Age: As men get older, their risk of developing prostate cancer increases. Over 80 percent of prostate cancer cases affect men over 65.
- Ethnicity: Black men are more likely to develop prostate cancer than white men, and they may develop it at an earlier age. Black men also have a higher risk of being affected by aggressive forms of prostate cancer. Hispanic men are less likely to develop prostate cancer than non-Hispanic white men.
- Family history: Men are at a higher risk of developing prostate cancer if they have close relatives with prostate cancer.
- Genetics: Certain genetic changes may increase the risk of prostate cancer. Research regarding this potential link is ongoing.
- Exposure to Agent Orange: Used during the Vietnam War, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has listed this chemical as being linked to prostate cancer.
- Diet: Researchers believe a man's diet may affect prostate cancer risk, but studies are not conclusive. More research is needed to investigate this possible connection further.
Reducing the risk
Regular and varied exercise may help to reduce the risk of developing prostate cancer.
Research from 2014 found the following helped reduce the risk of prostate cancer:
- stopping smoking
- exercising regularly
- taking 5-alpha-reductase inhibitors
While the first two lifestyle changes are relatively easy to make, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) have not approved 5-alpha-reductase inhibitors for the prevention of prostate cancer.
Dietary changes may also help reduce the risk of prostate cancer. Research is ongoing, but the American Society of Clinical Oncology notes the following findings from current studies:
- diets high in fat may increase the risk of prostate cancer
- diets high in fruit and vegetables may decrease the risk of prostate cancer
However, these dietary changes may need to be made earlier in life to have an effect on a man's risk of developing prostate cancer
Prostate cancer can be detected early using a blood test or with a rectal exam. Diagnosing cancer early can improve the chances of successful treatment.
Blood tests may not be the best option for all men, as they can show conditions that do not require treatment. It is a good idea for men over 50 to discuss being tested for prostate cancer with their doctor.
Research shows the possibility of a link between frequent ejaculation and the risk of prostate cancer. However, further research is needed to understand if ejaculating frequently decreases the risk of prostate cancer for men of all ages.
As research is ongoing, it is important for men to read about prostate cancer regularly and discuss their concerns with a doctor.