By Richard Wagner
There been some interest, on the part of some of my age peers, as to a possible link between masturbation and prostate cancer for us older guys.
I’ve been reading the literature on this topic for years. Every now and again a study will pop up that claims to provide a definitive answer to this perennial question. And then, within a few month of that study, another group of researchers elsewhere will come to different conclusion.
For example, in 2009 a team of researchers at England’s University of Nottingham took a novel approach and looked at whether men with a more elevated sex drive were at higher risk of prostate cancer. They obtained detailed sexual histories from 840 men. About half the men got prostate cancer by age 60, and about half didn’t. While there is no conclusive evidence of a masturbation/prostate cancer link here, there were some other interesting results.
Partnered sex didn’t seem to impact on a man’s prostate cancer risk. But these researchers claim that frequent masturbation did — in different ways, at different times of life. (To this day, I’m unsure how they were able to discern the risk factor of one sexual act as opposed to another, but I digress.) The Nottingham researchers say their study indicates that men in their 20s and 30s who frequently masturbate increase their risk of prostate cancer, but men in their 50s who masturbated frequently decreased their risk.”
Of course, masturbation frequency is relative concept. But in this instance, “frequent masturbation” for men in their 20s, was considered to be two to seven times per week. “Frequent masturbation” for men in their 50s, was considered to be one or more times per week. (I had to ask myself, isn’t there a huge difference between jerkin’ off twice a week and pullin’ your pud seven times a week? I sure think so. But again I digress.)
These researchers say that young men, genetically predisposed to have hormone-sensitive prostate cancer, will be at higher risk if their bodies naturally produce high levels of male hormones — the same hormones that give them an intense sex drive. (But wait; is frequency of masturbation really an adequate indicator of a person’s sex drive. I suggest not. And if the researchers’ conclusions are only applicable for someone predisposed to hormone-sensitive prostate cancer, what if any information can be gleaned for those who aren’t?)
The researchers conclude that it’s not masturbation itself that’s increasing prostate cancer risk in young menhealth. They say that more masturbation may just mean more sex drive — and more androgens bathing prostate tissues. But I suggest that this is way too big a leap to make.
Now let’s compare the Nottingham study with research that came out a year earlier, in 2008. Australian researchers questioned over 1,000 men who had developed prostate cancer and 1,250 men who had not about their sexual habits. They found those who had ejaculated the most between the ages of 20 and 50 were the least likely to develop prostate cancer.
This study suggests that the protective effect of squeezing one off is greatest while we men are in our 20s. In fact, men who ejaculate more than five times a week are a third less likely to develop prostate cancer later in life. As you can see this stands in diametric opposition to the 2009 UK study I site above.
The Australian researchers tell us that ejaculating prevents the buildup of carcinogens in the prostate gland. This is the prostatic stagnation hypothesis, don’t cha know. I mean, just the sound of that makes me want to go touch myself impurely. I’m guessing that none of us want a stagnant prostate. The research suggests that the more we flush out our ducts, the fewer carcinogens there will be to hang around and damage the cells that line our ducts.
Interestingly enough, this is this is not a terribly new concept. A similar connection was found between breast cancer and breastfeeding. Lactating flushes out carcinogens, thus reducing a woman’s risk of breast cancer.
Where does this conflicting data leave us men, both young and older? I’m going to go way out on a limb here and say that, to date, no direct or conclusive connection has been made between masturbation and prostate cancer. The truth of the matter is there are too many variables to control for.
So if researchers haven’t yet found a convincing smoking gun, no pun intended, linking masturbation and prostate cancer, then maybe there isn’t one. And I’ll stake my reputation on a very simple and time-tested axiom. Self-pleasuring is a necessary part of every healthy person’s sexual repertoire. The health benefits of self-pleasuring far outweigh any alleged deleterious effects, especially for men over 50. Play with yourself with abandon; even play with yourself when you are playing with a partner and invite your partner to do the same. And be sure to throw in a hefty dose of prostate massage for good measure, you’ll be glad ya did.