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 "Sex causes Prostate Cancer?"

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Sex causes Cancer?

According to a recent article published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, frequent sexual activity does not increase the risk of developing prostate cancer. In fact, it appears that an increase in sexual activity may provide a protective benefit against developing prostate cancer.

The prostate is a walnut-sized gland that is located between the bladder and rectum. The prostate is responsible for producing a fluid that is a component of semen. One in every 6 men in the United States will be diagnosed with prostate cancer within their lifetime, making prostate cancer the second most common cancer in men.

According to the American Cancer Society, approximately 231,000 cases of prostate cancer will be diagnosed in the United States in 2004, and approximately 30,000 will die from the disease. Researchers continue to evaluate environmental and genetic factors that may be associated with prostate cancer so that men may alter their lifestyle to reduce their risk, or obtain appropriate screening measures if they are considered to a be at high risk.

Results from a multi-institution clinical study evaluating the frequency of ejaculation and its possible association with prostate cancer were recently completed. The study included over 29,000 men who were aged 46 to 81 years. The men answered questions about the average number of ejaculations they had per month during their 20s, 40s and the previous year (1991). The men were given questionnaires every 2 years, beginning in 1992 and ending in 2000 regarding ejaculation frequency. After approximately 8 years of follow-up, data indicated that most levels of ejaculation frequency were unrelated to the risk of developing prostate cancer.

However, men with ejaculation frequency of 21 or more per month had a 33% decreased risk of developing prostate cancer compared to those with an ejaculation frequency of only 4 7 times per month over the span of a lifetime.

The researchers concluded that frequent ejaculation it not associated with an increase in the development of prostate cancer. In fact, in this study, men with 21 or more ejaculations per month has a reduced risk of developing prostate cancer over a span of a lifetime than those with 4-7 ejaculations per month.

"When you look at the data in a little bit more detail, you do see that not only is there not an increased risk, but there is potentially even the possibility of a slight decrease in risk with high ejaculation frequency," says researcher Michael Leitzmann, MD, an investigator at the National Cancer Institute in Bethesda, Md. Leitzmann conducted the research during a post-doctoral fellowship at Harvard University.

Leitzmann says researchers suspected that ejaculation frequency might be a marker of a healthier, more active lifestyle. But when they accounted for diet, exercise, and other risk factors for prostate cancer, the link between frequent ejaculation and lower prostate cancer risk remained.

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 risks and they do not appear to correlate with sexual desire as much as previously thought.

Jim Shaw

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