There’s exciting news on the prostate cancer front. If you ejaculate frequently, your risk of getting prostate cancer may be reduced. How often is frequent? A study at Harvard Medical School says 21 times a month. A similar Australian study points to seven times a week.
But there’s a catch: one study suggests it’s only an effective preventative measure in men age 50 and older.
Keep reading to learn more about this possible connection.
What the research says
Steps to reduce cancer risk often include a lot of things you shouldn’t do. So, it may be welcoming news to learn that something many men find pleasurable may help reduce your risk of prostate cancer.
Researchers don’t understand exactly why frequent ejaculation might provide protection against prostate cancer. One theory is that ejaculation rids the prostate gland of cancer-causing materials, infection, and matter that can cause inflammation.
Despite strong evidence in favor of frequent ejaculation, the theory remains controversial. And there are conflicting findings. The greatest controversy regarding these studies is about the age when ejaculation occurs.
A 2008 study determined that men were more likely to develop prostate cancer if they were very sexually active in their twenties and thirties. The study also found no conclusive evidence that masturbation provide greater risk than intercourse.
The Harvard study did not support the age-related findings from the 2008 study. It found no increased risk of prostate cancer related to age of ejaculation, though it did show that the benefits increase as a man ages. The Australian study demonstrated a reduced risk of prostate cancer if frequent ejaculation occurred during young adulthood.
Ejaculation also doesn’t seem to provide protection against advanced or aggressive prostate cancer.
More research is needed to better understand the relationship between prostate cancer and ejaculation.
How much is your risk reduced?
An 18-year Harvard study of nearly 30,000 health professionals determined that risk of prostate cancer was reduced by 20 percent for men who ejaculated 21 times a month, compared to men who ejaculated four to seven times a month.
A similar Australian study found the risk was reduced by 36 percent when men ejaculated seven times a week.
Are you at risk for prostate cancer?
Prostate cancer is the second most common kind of cancer men get. Skin cancer is the most common cancer. In the United States, one in seven men will get prostate cancer at some point in their life.
The following factors affect your risk of getting prostate cancer:
- age: men over the age of 50 are at greater risk for prostate cancer
- race: prostate cancer is more common among African American men
- genetics: your risk is greater is a close relative has a history of prostate cancer
- weight: obesity may increase your risk of getting more advanced prostate cancer
- activity level: physical inactivity has been shown to increase risk in some men
- diet: a diet high in animal and dairy fat and low in fiber, fruits, and vegetables may increase your risk
- chemical exposure: exposure to Agent Orange increases your risk for developing prostate cancer, according the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs
You may also have an increased risk if you’ve had sex with 30 or more women or if you’ve had a sexually transmitted disease. This may be because of your sexual habits. Alternately, it could be that you have a stronger sex drive due to higher levels of male hormones, which can be a risk factor.
Ways to reduce your risk
The causes of prostate cancer aren’t known. But there’s evidence that a healthy diet and lifestyle may provide some protection. Steps you can take include:
- reduce your intake of red meat, animal fats, and dairy fats
- add more fruit and vegetables to your diet
- in men who have prostate cancer, taking aspirin regularly may slow progression of the disease
Learn about emerging research, nutrition, prevention, chemo, and more — to support you through your cancer care journey.
Sex and masturbation are good for you in many ways. They can reduce stress and contribute to a healthy heart. Most men fall asleep more quickly and sleep more deeply after sex. And, frequent ejaculation may well give you some protection against prostate cancer, especially if you’re age 50 or older.
Did you know that 30% of cancer is preventable with lifestyle factors? Join the Prostate Cancer Foundation this September for our Get Healthy prostate cancer awareness challenges!