The prostate gland that plays an important role in ejaculation. Many people believe that ejaculating frequently can help reduce the risk of prostate cancer.
The prostate gland is a small, walnut shaped gland that produces the fluid in semen and helps push this fluid out during ejaculation.
Because prostate cancer is so widespread, it is important to know and understand the risk factors.
This article explores whether or not frequent ejaculation can reduce the risk of prostate cancer. It also explains some other risk factors and why screening is important.
In recent years, a number of articles have claimed that ejaculating more often can reduce the risk of prostate cancer. Some scientific evidence supports these claims.
For example, according to a 2016 study, males who ejaculate more frequently are less likely to develop prostate cancer than those who ejaculate less frequently.
The research followed a 2004 investigation that came to a similar conclusion. Both studies found that males who ejaculate 21 times or more per month may have a lower risk of developing prostate cancer than males who ejaculated four to seven times per month.
Other studies have produced conflicting results. As a result, many researchers disagree about whether or not ejaculating more often makes males of all ages less likely to develop prostate cancer.
One 2009 study found that frequent masturbation might reduce the risk of prostate cancer in males aged 50 and above. However, the same study also suggested that ejaculating more often might increase the risk among males in their 20s and 30s.
In contrast, a 2003 study from Australia found that males who frequently ejaculated when they were younger appeared to have a reduced rate of prostate cancer later in life.
A literature review from 2016 concludes that masturbation, frequency of ejaculation, and age all affected a male's risk of prostate cancer. However, its authors also say that there was not enough evidence to confirm how these factors might link together.
Although some evidence seems to suggest a link between ejaculating more often and the risk of prostate cancer, the results overall have been inconsistent and contradictory.
For this reason, scientists need to conduct more research to confirm what impact, if any, frequent ejaculation has on prostate cancer risk.
What are the symptoms of and treatment options for prostate cancer? Find out here.
Being aware of the risk factors for prostate cancer can help males understand their likelihood of developing it.
The following factors appear to make prostate cancer more likely:
Age: As males get older, their risk of developing prostate cancer increases. In fact, around 60% of prostate cancer cases affect males over 65.
Race: Black males are more likely to develop and die of prostate cancer than white males. Hispanic males are less likely to develop prostate cancer than non-Hispanic white males.
Geography: Prostate cancer is more common in some areas. For example, rates are higher in North America than in Central and South America. Experts do not now why, but diet may be a factor.
Family history: Males have a higher risk of prostate cancer if they have close relatives with a history of the condition.
Genetic factors: Certain genetic changes may increase the risk of prostate cancer. Changes in the BRCA genes, which also increase the risk of breast cancer, may play a role.
Exposure to chemicals: Some chemicals may increase the risk of prostate cancer. For example, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs have suggested that Agent Orange — which military forces used in the Vietnam war — may have links with prostate cancer.
Diet: Some researchers believe that diet may affect prostate cancer risk. Dietary habits that may help reduce risk include limiting fat intake and eating plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables. However, more research is necessary to confirm the link between diet and prostate cancer.
How else might diet impact cancer risk? Learn more here.
In 2014, researchers suggested that making the following lifestyle changes may help reduce the risk of prostate cancer:
- stopping smoking
- exercising regularly
- taking 5-alpha-reductase inhibitors
It is important to note that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have not approved the use of 5-alpha-reductase inhibitors for the prevention of prostate cancer.
Are there any natural ways to reduce the risk of prostate cancer? Learn more here.
Regular screening with blood tests or rectal exams can ensure the early detection of prostate cancer and improve the chances of successful treatment.
Males who receive a diagnosis when the cancer is still within the prostate or has only spread to nearby tissues has, on average, an almost 100% chance of surviving at least another 5 years.
Someone who receives a diagnosis in the later stages, when cancer has spread to other parts of the body, has a 30% chance of living another 5 years or more.
For this reason, it is important to speak to a doctor about screening.
Transgender people assigned male at birth should also ask their doctor about screening. This is because they may still have a risk of developing prostate cancer, even if they have transitioned.
Research has suggested that there may be a link between frequent ejaculation and the risk of prostate cancer. However, there is not currently enough evidence to confirm this.
All males and anyone assigned male at birth should speak to their physician about their risk factors and follow any screening guidelines the doctor recommends.
I have heard there are home testing kits for prostate cancer. Are they a good idea?
People worried about prostate cancer can speak with their doctor about screening options. The home kits check for prostate specific antigen (PSA), which may not be a reliable indicator. This is because males with elevated PSA levels may not have prostate cancer.
It is best to discuss the risks and benefits of prostate cancer screening and the various testing options with a doctor.
In short, skip the at-home test and go straight to the doctor for a discussion.Alana Biggers, MD, MPH Answers represent the opinions of our medical experts. All content is strictly informational and should not be considered medical advice.