Research suggests that regular ejaculation may reduce your risk of prostate cancer later in life.
Study: Daily Ejaculations Are Related To Reduced Risk Of Prostate Cancer Later In Life
Why masturbation may be really, truly good for you.
[Mike has been JackinWorld's Assistant Editor since 1997. He has two grown children, a daughter and a son.]
Here's what you need to know about the study in a nutshell:
* Between ages 20 and 30, if you ejaculate at least 5 times per week, you place yourself in a group of males that appears to have substantially less risk of developing prostate cancer later in life.
* This doesn't mean that you can prevent prostate cancer if you ejaculate every day, just that your chances of developing it may be less than men who have fewer ejaculations per week.
* These results come from just one study. For the idea to become more widely accepted by doctors and scientists, other studies need to be done that come up with the same results.
* Men between ages 30 and 50 also had a lower risk of developing prostate cancer, but the association just wasn't as strong as for those between 20 and 30.
* The study didn't consider males' sexual activity at ages younger than 20 – so if you're under 20, the results of the study may not apply to you (although logic suggests that they would).
This article summarizes a study sponsored by Cancer Council Victoria in Melbourne, Australia, and directed by Dr. Graham Giles, Director of the Cancer Council's Cancer Epidemiology Centre. The study was published in the British Journal of Urology, August 2003.
The study found that men who reported ejaculating 5 or more times a week when they were in their 20s were one-third less likely to have been diagnosed with prostate cancer later in life, when compared with men who reported ejaculating 3 times a week or less. Although the strength of association was strongest for men in their 20s, it was also significant for men between ages 30 and 50.
The study gathered data by having 1,079 men, all of whom were under age 70 when diagnosed with prostate cancer, fill out a questionnaire that asked them about their sexual activities at various ages. A similar group of 1,259 men who had not been diagnosed with prostate cancer filled out the same questionnaire. The study was designed to encourage honesty in responding to the questions by having the men fill out the questionnaires themselves. Likewise, their privacy was otherwise respected in the handling of the data.
The study did not find any significant relationship between risk of prostate cancer and age at first ejaculation, how many times within 24 hours a man might have ejaculated, or number of sexual partners. Nor did it differentiate among various ejaculation situations – whether the ejaculation resulted from masturbation, sexual intercourse with another person, nocturnal emission, etc. Instead, it considered only the total number of ejaculations in a week.
Most previous studies that looked at ejaculation frequency and risk of prostate cancer had considered only ejaculations from sexual intercourse with another person and not ejaculations stemming from masturbation or nocturnal emission. These studies showed the opposite of the current study – that the greater the number of ejaculations, the more sexual partners, and the greater intensity of sexual activity, the greater the risk of prostate cancer. So the current study raises some questions and challenges to the accepted understanding in the medical and scientific community.
It is possible that by confining themselves just to sexual intercourse, that the previous studies actually introduced a contaminating variable – that of passing sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). Infection by STDs has been shown consistently to raise the risk of prostate cancer later in life.
The research team for the 2003 study suggests that one reason for the current findings is that frequent ejaculation "flushes out the plumbing" in and around the prostate gland, thus removing some substances that have been shown in animal studies to become carcinogenic if left to accumulate. This explanation is similar to an explanation of why women who do not lactate (secrete milk) have a higher incidence of breast cancer than those who do. Lactation is thought to "flush out the plumbing."
* Can we safely assume that men who are now between 50 and 70 years old can accurately remember how often they ejaculated when they were in their 20s? They may be able to, but as far as we know, there is no research to assess whether memories of ejaculatory frequency between 30 and 50 years earlier would be accurate. However, the number of subjects in the study was likely high enough to correct for individual variations in memory skill.
* We need to be cautious in drawing conclusions from this type of study, one that shows the degree of association between two different variables (the frequency of ejaculation and being diagnosed later in life with prostate cancer). Observing that the lower incidence of prostate cancer is associated with higher frequency of ejaculation when one was in his 20s is quite different from concluding that we should ejaculate daily to defend against developing prostate cancer. (But consider this – if you're in your room stroking away and your parents holler at you wondering what you're doing in there, you just might be better off to say that you're "preventing cancer.")
Further information about the study can be found in an excellent summary article in the New Scientist at http://www.newscientist.com/news/news.jsp?id=ns99993942.