Frequent Ejaculation May Be Good for Prostate
Sexual Activity Doesn't Raise Prostate Cancer Risk, May Have Protective Effects
Ejaculation May Lower Prostate Cancer Risk continued...
"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.
Study Raises Biological Questions
Researchers say the findings raise several questions about the biological role of sexual activity and ejaculation in the development of prostate cancer.
Leitzmann says that until now, sexual activity had been associated with prostate cancer risk due to the hormone hypothesis. The male sex hormone testosterone is known to spur the growth of prostate cancer cells and it also fuels the male sex drive. Therefore, it had been proposed that very sexually active men had a higher risk of prostate cancer because they had higher testosterone levels.
But he says this theory has its shortcomings because testosterone levels alone do not predict prostate cancer risk and they do not appear to correlate with sexual desire as much as previously thought.
Instead, researchers say ejaculation may protect the prostate through a variety of biological mechanisms that merit further research, such as:
- Flushing out cancer-causing substances. Frequent ejaculation may help flush out retained chemical carcinogens in the prostate glands.
Reducing tension. The release of psychological tension that accompanies ejaculation may lower nervous activity associated with stress and slow the growth of potentially cancerous cells in the prostate.
Promoting rapid turnover of fluids. Frequent ejaculation may help prevent the development of mini-crystals that can block ducts within the prostate gland, reducing cancer risk.
The Fine Print
Although researchers found frequent ejaculation appeared to lower the risk of developing prostate cancer, it's unclear how ejaculation may affect men destined to develop or already in the early states of prostate cancer. Men who reported high ejaculation frequency throughout their lives and in the last year appeared to have a higher risk of developing advanced prostate cancer, but researchers say the numbers were too small to draw any firm conclusions.