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Frequent Ejaculation May Be Good for Prostate

Sexual Activity Doesn't Raise Prostate Cancer Risk, May Have Protective Effects

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.

Since the study consisted of white men predominantly, researchers also say that the study results only apply to middle-aged white men. Black men are more likely to develop prostate cancer than white or Asian men.

Martin Resnick, MD, chairman of the department of urology at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, says it's always been a question of whether prostate function as indicated by sexual activity might affect prostate cancer risk either positively or negatively.

"There have been some studies in the past that showed individuals that have been more promiscuous, had more sexual partners, or had an earlier onset of sexual activity had higher incidence of prostate cancer," says Resnick. "But those are old studies."

He says this study offers new information that sexual activity may not be negatively associated with prostate cancer, and it's reasonable to believe that a "use it or lose it" principle may apply to overall prostate health.

But researchers stress that until more is known about the role of ejaculation and prostate cancer, researchers say men shouldn't change their sexual behavior.

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