Possible Connections Between Sex and Prostate CancerResearchers have several theories as to why having more or less sex (or ejaculations) could increase or reduce your risk of prostate cancer. Theories include:
Sexually transmitted diseases. One theory suggests that cellular changes from getting an STD may increase the risk of developing prostate cancer. Those men with more sexual partners tend to be at greater risk of STDs.
Reduced toxicity, increased immune function. When a man ejaculates, toxins are expelled from the body in to the semen. Some researchers who have found that increased ejaculations are associated with decreased prostate cancer suggest that it may be that more ejaculations reduce the amount of toxins and the length of time toxins stay in the body. They also point to research that more frequent ejaculations are linked to better immune functioning. In this theory, ejaculation is seen as a flushing out of toxins.
Hormones. While most researchers agree that there is a relationship between testosterone and male sexual function, there is no agreement on how this relationship works. There is also a belief that prostate cancer is hormone-dependent, although this, too, is hard to prove and explain. It’s possible, some researchers argue, that a sex hormone that impacts sexual activity may also impact risk of prostate cancer. Whether that’s a one way relationship (e.g. more testosterone = more sexual activity = greater risk of prostate cancer) or a more complicated one, though, remains to be seen.
Reduced Stress. Yet another theory (considered “highly speculative” by the researchers who proposed it) links increased ejaculation with decreased prostate cancer risk, suggesting that it’s the release of psychological tension during ejaculation that has a protective effect.
The Bottom LineSo should you masturbate more or less? Have more or less sex with a partner? And if you’re having sex with someone of the same sex, what should you do? It’s unfortunate that almost all the research has been with white, heterosexual men. This may not make a difference, but it would be good to know.
At this point, we don’t even know how the relationship between sexual activity and prostate cancer risk works -- let alone knowing that if you have sex (or ejaculations) X number of times a week, you’re doing something good for your body. Given the many health benefits of sex (and health benefits of orgasms), I would suggest it’s a bit premature to stop yourself from masturbation or partner sex at this point.
What all of the researchers in this field agree on, though, is that a healthy prostate is the result of a healthy lifestyle (including a proper diet, exercise, balancing stress and relaxation and seeing your healthcare provider). And what all sex educators agree on is that healthy sexual expression is a part of a healthy lifestyle.
Giles, G.G., Severi, G., English, D.R., et. al. “Sexual Factors and Prostate Cancer” BJU International Vol. 92 (2003): 211-216.
Leitzmann, M.F., Platz, E.A., Stampfer, M.J., et al. “Ejaculation Frequency and Subsequent Risk of Prostate Cancer” JAMA Vol. 291, No. 13 (2004): 1578-1586.
Dimitropoulou, P., Lophatananon, A., Easton, D., et al. “Sexual Activity and Prostate Cancer Risk in Men Diagnosed at a Younger Age” BJU International Vol. 103 (2008): 178-185.