Last Updated on August 4, 2021 by Max
Sexual activity after age 50 is an important component of overall well-being and quality of life, especially for people with an active lifestyle. Although the libido declines with age, about 40% of married men 60 years or older are engaged in sexual activity between 1 and 4 times per month.
Being an organ of reproduction the prostate gland is actively involved in the formation of semen, the secretions of the prostate make up about 30% of its volume. In addition to the secretory, the prostate has a muscular component, the contraction of which contributes to the discharge of sperm outside with each ejaculation. Thus, it is logical to assume that the health of this gland may depend on the activity of the prostate. It is known that the risk of prostate cancer increases with age. Therefore, researchers have long questioned whether the risk of prostate cancer in old age depends on the number of ejaculations, or in other words, on the activity of the prostate.
How does the number of ejaculations affect the risk of prostate cancer?
It should be noted that there is still no unambiguous answer to this question, primarily because so far no randomized controlled trials have been conducted on this issue. The available scientific evidence is mainly obtained in hindsight through a questionnaire with study participants.
The most extensive study, the results of which are more often referred to in the world literature, and are credible, we will analyze here in more detail (M. F. Leitzmann et al. 2004). The study examined the association between ejaculation frequency and risk of prostate cancer. Ejaculation in this study captured sexual intercourse, nighttime discharge, and masturbation.
In this study 51, 529 predominantly white men aged 40 to 75 years responded to a questionnaire. During 8 years, between 1992 and 2000, there were 1449 cases of total prostate cancer, 953 cases of organ-confined prostate cancer, and 147 cases of advanced prostate cancer.
Men with higher ejaculation frequency were physically more active and were more likely to have a history of reproductive conditions such as syphilis or gonorrhea, prostatitis, and vasectomy than men with lower ejaculation frequency. Besides, men in the first category consumed more total energy, lycopene, fish, alcohol, supplemental vitamin E, and supplemental zinc.
The results of the study suggest that high ejaculation frequency (21 and more per month) was associated with a lower risk of total and local prostate cancer compared with the low ejaculation frequency (4-7 or fewer ejaculations per month). This relation was not dependant on potential risk factors for prostate cancer, such as age, family history of prostate cancer, history of syphilis or gonorrhea, smoking, and diet.
Each increase of 3 ejaculations per week across a lifetime was associated with a 15% decrease in risk of total prostate cancer (M. F. Leitzmann et al. 2004).
In 2016, the update of the above study was published, to include an additional 10 yr of follow-up into the original study results (J. R. Rider et al. 2016).
The researchers provided additional evidence of a beneficial role of more frequent ejaculation throughout adult life for low-risk of prostate cancer. They found that men who ejaculated the most (21 or more times a month) had about a 20% lower likelihood of prostate cancer, compared with those who did it less (4 to 7 times a month). That was true in several age groups. The more men ejaculated in a month, the less likely they were to get prostate cancer (J. R. Rider et al. 2016).
A meta-analysis by Jian Z. and colleagues (2018), included 22 relevant studies with about 55,000 participants. They found that men with fewer sexual partner numbers, older age at first intercourse, and moderate frequent ejaculation were associated with a significantly decreased risk of PC.
P. Dimitropoulou and colleagues (2008) analyzed the sexual activity of 431 prostate cancer sufferers and 409 controls. They found that frequent sexual activity protects against PC in older life (50s), while it increases the disease risk in younger life (20s). Masturbation as such, in 20s and 30s, was related to increased risk of prostate cancer which declined by 50s, while intercourse activity alone was not associated with the disease.
To sum up we can say:
- At this time, we cannot say for sure that a higher ejaculation rate protects against prostate cancer. We see that such a connection exists, but we do not know what causes it. It may be that a person with high sexual activity has other healthy habits that play an important role in the development of the disease and which were not taken into account in the studies.
- It is also possible that ejaculation shields the prostate by flushing out toxic chemicals that build up in semen.
Are you at risk for prostate cancer?
Prostate cancer is the second only to the lung tumor in men worldwide, with about 900 000 new cases diagnosed annually and more than 250 000 deaths a year. American Cancer Society predicts about one man in 8 will be diagnosed with prostate cancer during his lifetime. Fortunately, most men diagnosed with prostate cancer, survive and it is not the main reason they die from.
The following factors affect your risk of getting prostate cancer:
- Age: your risk of getting PC increases with age, especially after 50.
- Race: African Americans get PC more often than whites and whites-more often than Latinos.
- Genetics/family history: The genes BRCA1 and BRCA2 are the DNA repair genes and exist in the genome of men as well as women. The risk of prostate cancer increases up to 3.8-fold for men with BRCA1 mutations and up to 8.6-fold for men who carry BRCA2 mutations. The risk of the disease in first-degree relatives is about twice that in the general population, rising to fourfold and more if the case is diagnosed under age 60.
- Weight: there is evidence that obesity is connected with the risk of aggressive prostate cancer.
- Diet: a diet high in processed animal food and low in fiber, fruits, and vegetables may increase your risk.
- chemical exposure: exposure to pesticides, herbicides, and some preservatives increase your risk of developing prostate cancer.
- You may have an increased risk if you’ve had a sexually transmitted disease.
- Regular issues with the gastrointestinal tract, including constipation and altered unhealthy gut microbiota may also increase your risk of PC.
How you can reduce your risk of getting prostate cancer?
Steps you can take include:
- Reduce your intake of processed animal foods, red meat, and fat.
- Eat at least 12 servings of fruits and vegetables a week, include more cruciferous vegetables into your diet, as they help to keep control of the balance of estradiol in men.
- In men who have prostate cancer, taking aspirin regularly may slow the progression of the disease. In a recent study taking aspirin was associated with a lower risk of lethal prostate cancer, and taking it after diagnosis may help to prevent prostate cancer from becoming fatal (M. K.Downer et al. 2017).
- Take care of your gut; avoid long-term constipation.
- Take care of good sleep, which reduces stress and inflammation.
- Minimize your exposure to potentially harmful chemicals.
- M. F. Leitzmann et al. Ejaculation Frequency and Subsequent Risk of Prostate Cancer. JAMA. 2004;291(13):1578-1586.
- J. R. Rider et al. Ejaculation Frequency and Risk of Prostate Cancer: Updated Results with an Additional Decade of Follow-up. Eur Urol. 2016 Dec;70(6):974-982.
- Jian Z, Ye D, Chen Y, et al. Sexual Activity and Risk of Prostate Cancer: A Dose–Response Meta-Analysis. J Sex Med 2018;15:1300–1309.
- P. Dimitropoulou et al. 2008. Sexual activity and prostate cancer risk in men diagnosed at a younger age. BJU International Volume 103, Issue 2 p. 178-185.
- M. K.Downer et al. Regular Aspirin Use and the Risk of Lethal Prostate Cancer in the Physicians’ Health Study. European Urology. Volume 72, Issue 5, November 2017, Pages 821-827