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Masturbation Protects Men Against Prostate Cancer, Australian Study Finds

17 July 2003. New York, PSA Rising. Masturbation or any activity that causes ejaculation reduces a man's risk of prostate cancer, according to Australian researchers. The more often men ejaculate between the ages of 20 and 50, the less likely they are to develop prostate cancer, says Graham Giles after conducting a study for the Victoria, Australia, Cancer Council.

The protective effect of ejaculation, the study found, is greatest when men in their twenties ejaculated on average seven or more times a week. Men in this group were one-third less likely to develop aggressive prostate cancer when compared with men who had ejaculated fewer than three times a week at this age.

Professor Giles said, "We looked at a number of different aspects of sexual activity including the number of sexual partners, the frequency of ejaculation, as well as the number of times men ejaculated at different ages, from their twenties through to their fifties."

"The study looked at ejaculation in the context of sexual activity with another person, masturbation, nocturnal emissions etc.," Giles said. "This is a different approach from previous studies, which have mostly looked at links between sexual intercourse and prostate cancer."

"Our research indicates that there is no association between prostate cancer and the number of sexual partners, which argues against infection as a cause of prostate cancer in the Australian population. We also found no association between maximum number of ejaculations in a 24 hour period and prostate cancer. Therefore, it is not men's ability to ejaculate that seems to be important."

"While it is generally accepted that prostate cancer is a hormone dependent cancer, apart from age and family history, its causes are poorly understood. For this reason, our explanations are fairly speculative - one possible reason for the protective effects of ejaculation may be that frequent ejaculation prevents carcinogens building up in the prostatic ducts. If the ducts are flushed out, there may be less build up and damage to the cells that line them. However, this is only one study and our findings require further corroboration in other studies."

The research was conducted with men who were under the age of 70 when they were diagnosed with prostate cancer, and with a group of similarly aged healthy men. There were 1079 men with prostate cancer and 1259 healthy men in the study. The men were from Melbourne, Sydney and Perth.

Participants filled in a confidential questionnaire that sought details of their sexual activity at various times in their life. The results of the survey were treated confidentially.

Professor Giles said, "We believe that the men who participated in the study were likely to have been honest about their sexual activity because of the way the research was conducted, particularly using a questionnaire that men filled out themselves, and respecting their privacy."

"The fact that we did not find any association with the number of sexual partners," he added, "argues against the possibility of the finding in regard to ejaculation being due to bias, as if this was the case we would have expected both associations to be positive."

The project involved researchers from The Cancer Council Victoria, The University of Western Australia, The European Institute of Oncology and the Dunedin Medical School, University of Otago, New Zealand. It was paid for by the National Health and Medical Research Council and supported by funding from The Cancer Council Victoria (Australia), Tattersall's and The E. J. Whitten Foundation named for one of Australia's greatest soccer plays. The study is published in the British Journal of Urology International vol 92, p 211.

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