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Frequent Ejaculation May Be Good for Prostate

Sexual Activity Doesn't Raise Prostate Cancer Risk, May Have Protective Effects
By
WebMD Health News

April 6, 2004 -- Frequent ejaculation, whether it happens during sexual intercourse, masturbation, or a dream, isn't likely to increase men's risk of prostate cancer. In fact, new research suggests it may have the opposite effect and help protect the prostate.

Researchers say it's too soon to recommend that men change their sexual habits in an attempt to lower their prostate cancer risk. However, the study raises interesting questions about the role of ejaculation and sexual behavior in the development of prostate cancer.

Previous studies have linked frequent sexual activity to a higher risk of prostate cancer, but this new, large study found ejaculation frequency was not associated with prostate cancer risk except in the highest category. Men who ejaculated most often actually had a 33% lower lifetime risk of prostate cancer, and this relationship grew stronger as men grew older.

For example, men who reported 21 or more ejaculations per month in their 40s had a 32% lower risk of prostate cancer later in life compared with those who reported between four and seven ejaculations per month. Men who reported more than 21 monthly ejaculations in the previous year had a 51% lower risk of prostate cancer.

Overall, an average of 21 or more ejaculations a month during a man's lifetime decreased the risk of prostate cancer later in life by 33%. And each increase of three ejaculations per week during a man's lifetime was associated with a 15% reduction in prostate cancer risk.

Ejaculation May Lower Prostate Cancer Risk

The findings, published in the April 7 issue of The Journal of the American Medical Association, are based on data collected from nearly 30,000 predominately white men aged 46 to 81.

At the start of the study, men provided information on ejaculation frequency in their 20s, 40s, and in the previous year (1991). Ejaculation frequency included sexual intercourse, masturbation, and nighttime ejaculations that can occur during sleep. The men were then monitored for eight years.

Researchers found most categories of ejaculation frequency were unrelated to prostate cancer risk. But when they looked at men in the highest category of ejaculation frequency, they found evidence of a protective effect.

"When you look at the data in a little bit more detail, you do see that not only is there not an increased risk, but there is potentially even the possibility of a slight decrease in risk with high ejaculation frequency," says researcher Michael Leitzmann, MD, an investigator at the National Cancer Institute in Bethesda, Md. Leitzmann conducted the research during a post-doctoral fellowship at Harvard University.

Leitzmann says researchers suspected that ejaculation frequency might be a marker of a healthier, more active lifestyle. But when they accounted for diet, exercise, and other risk factors for prostate cancer, the link between frequent ejaculation and lower prostate cancer risk remained.

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