Masturbation: 5 Things You Didn't Know (cont.)

The relationship between masturbation and prostate cancer is a bit hazy.

A 2003 Australian study published in BJU International linked frequent ejaculation early in life with reduced risk for prostate cancer later on. But in a 2004 study published in The Journal of the American Medical Association, a researcher reported that "ejaculation frequency is not related to increased risk of prostate cancer." In both these studies, ejaculation frequency included sexual intercourse and masturbation.

In a later study published in BJU International, researchers found that frequent masturbation in young men raised the risk for prostate cancer but that frequent masturbation in older men lowered the risk. Sexual intercourse did not affect prostate cancer risk.

The researchers theorize that it may not be the masturbation itself which is increasing risk of prostate cancer in men who masturbate frequently in their 20s and 30s. Men who masturbate more may do so because they have high levels of male sex hormones -- and young men genetically predisposed to have hormone-sensitive prostate cancer will be at higher risk if they have more male hormones. In men over age 50, the researchers theorize, frequent masturbation helps drain the prostate of fluids that may contain cancer-causing substances.

Barbara Bartlik, MD, assistant professor of psychiatry, Weill Cornell Medical College, New York City.
Martha Cornog, author, The Big Book of Masturbation.
Betty Dodson, PhD, sex therapist; author, Sex for One.
Michael A. Perelman, PhD, professor of psychiatry, reproductive medicine, and urology, Weill Cornell Medical College, New York City; president, The Society for Sex Therapy and Research, Washington, D.C.
Dimitropoulou, P. BJU International, January 2009; vol 103: pp 178-185.
Leitzmann, M. The Journal of the American Medical Association, April 7, 2004; vol 291: pp 1578-1586.
Giles, G. BJU International, August 2003; vol 92: pp 211-216.
Ul-Muqim, R. Pakistan Journal of Medical Sciences, January-March 2006; vol 22: pp 23-27.
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Last Editorial Review: 9/30/2011

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