Does masturbation prevent prostate cancer?
Recently, on-line media outlets touted the value of masturbating 21 times a month to prevent prostate cancer. We decided to check out the research behind this claim. Here’s what we found.
The studyThe study behind this media buzz was conducted by a research team in Boston. Researchers set out to learn if increased monthly ejaculation frequency throughout adulthood resulted in lower risk for developing prostate cancer. Approximately 32,000 American men participated in the study over a period of 18 years. The men completed anonymous questionnaires at age 20-29 years, 40-49 years and the year before the final questionnaire.
Researchers adjusted their data to control for factors that change over time, including body mass index, physical activity, diet and other potential risk factors for prostate cancer.
The findingsDrum roll please...The researchers did indeed find a statistically significant relationship between frequency of ejaculation and risk of prostate cancer. Men reporting at least 21 ejaculations per month were significantly less likely to develop low-risk prostate cancer than men reporting 4 to 7 ejaculations per month.
Limitations of the studyThe research team makes note of several limitations of this study. These include the following:
- Men were asked to report on their past sexual activity, which relies on accurate memory recall. This may have caused some measurement error.
- Participants’ other lifestyle factors may have influenced their risk for prostate cancer.
- The participants were mostly Caucasian men, so results may vary across other populations.
Take-home messageThis study provides strong evidence of the benefit of ejaculation for preventing prostate cancer. More research is needed to replicate these results before a firm claim can be made and to learn why ejaculation frequency is linked to prostate cancer.
Rider JR, Wilson KM, Sinnott JA, Kelly RS, Mucci LA, Giovannucci EL. Ejaculation Frequency and Risk of Prostate Cancer: Updated Results with an Additional Decade of Follow-up. Eur Urol. 2016 Dec;70(6):974-982. doi: 10.1016/j.eururo.2016.03.027.