The coming cancer scare

One thing you often hear when discussing orgasm denial is the concern, based on a few studies and how they’re amplified through internet discussion, that it’s somehow a risk for the development of prostate cancer in men. This perception is helped along by reports like this one called “Best Evidence Yet!: Ejaculation Reduces Prostate Cancer Risk.”

Good news, men: you may be able to decrease your risk for prostate cancer by ejaculating — frequently, according to research presented here at American Urological Association 2015 Annual Meeting.

The frothy advice is not new but is now backed up by the “strongest evidence to date” on the subject, according to lead author Jennifer Rider, ScD, MPH, an epidemiologist at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in Boston.

Two things off the bat. First, you do not follow an exclamation point with a colon. Ever. Second, the whimsical use of “frothy” is cute but inaccurate (if your ejaculate is “frothy” you many want to get yourself checked out). But I digress.

The study’s money shot:

After potential confounders were controlled for, the risk for prostate cancer was 20% lower in men who ejaculated at least 21 times a month than in men who ejaculated 4 to 7 times a month. The 20% risk reduction was seen at ages 20 to 29 and 40 to 49, and for the lifetime average (P trend < .0001 for all).

Some perspective. First, prostate cancer affects 1 in 7 men in the United States meaning the average man’s chance of getting it is 14.2%. The chances are far lower in young men and much higher in older men. If this study is correct, frequent ejaculation reduces one’s chances of getting it to 11.4%. It’s not a magic shield against getting prostate cancer. Also, there has been no research that I know of into the opposite hypothesis that infrequent ejaculation leads to a higher frequency of prostate cancer development. There is no data that supports the notion that orgasm denial is more dangerous than not denying orgasms. 

For me, this is another discussion of risk vs. reward. There may be a risk in practicing orgasm denial in your relationship. There are benefits to doing so, however. The question is, which are more important to you? Only you can say.

15 thoughts on “The coming cancer scare

  1. Meh.

    I think the Diet Coke I am currently enjoying as I type this probably increases my overall cancer risks far more than when and how often I ejaculate.

    But, you know me, I’m a risk taker.

  2. It would be interesting to do research on very specific populations, such as priests, who presumably do not ejaculate often. Does this sub-population of priests get more prostate cancer than the general run of the male population?

    There are also monks in certain Eastern religions who — again: presumably — do not ejaculate. They too would constitute a good test group. Do more monks get and/or die of prostate cancer than the regular guy.

    The problem gathering such data might be getting the Church or the monks to open up the medical records, files, etc., on its priests or fellow monks.

    1. Thing is, I wouldn’t trust a study of priests. They’re known to say one thing and do another with regard to sex so even if they’re disallowed masturbation (and I don’t know if that’s true), I doubt they’d report truthfully. Monks, maybe.

      A better group would be men like myself who have no reason to inaccurately report their orgasmic activity. But, the biggest issue is that this study went on for more than twenty years. It’s impossible to know if any effects on incidences of cancer are something that can be impacted in the short term or if it’s a multi-decade accumulative thing.

  3. Had a physical done about 5 years ago and asked my doctor about the risk of prostatecancer and if I needed to have my prostate examined (couldn’t hurt I supposed). According to him every man gets prostatecancer provided you live long enough to notice. At the age of 80 about 60-70% is what I was told, increasing into the 85-90% by the age of 90. Thing is, most of us die before that or we don’t even notice…
    Also, apparently your everyday environment (work: chemicals, toxins, etc) and lifestyle/diet (smoking, drinking, etc) pose greater influence then genetics…
    So keep calm & keep denying!

    1. That was my understanding as well. I had a friend whose grandfather had it and they never treated it. He was 80 and the risk of going after it was greater than just letting it go.

  4. The entire study is not published yet (I have the 2004 one that this is a follow up to if anyone wants a copy): so far we are only seeing abstracts and articles about Rider’s conference presentation (like that one).

    Two things strike me:

    The 21 times a month is lifetime average, so theoretically if you wanked your dick off in your youth, you’ve accumulated enough ejaculation points to have fewer later (declining ejaculation rates with age is acknowledged as the norm in the study)
    The type of cancer they are seeing is localised prostate cancer: not the lethal kind, not the spreading kind. I mean, cancer is cancer, but I’ve had basal cell carcinoma and it’s an ‘eh’ cancer compared with melanoma which will kill you.

    So in practice, it’s less specific (e.g. “I’m 50 years old and have to ejaculate 21 times a month or I’ll get cancer!” is rubbish) and less dangerous than popular media is going to show, and it will get endlessly repeated at that dumbed down level.

    Still, information is always a good thing.


  5. “First, you do not follow an exclamation point with a colon. Ever.”
    Sexy, kinky and a grammar nerd? Swoon.

  6. Pretty typical of how science is reported. The math is misrepresented, the conclusions overdrawn and often the actual content of the study is ignored to get a better headline. Today it was revealed that it isn’t very hard to get bogus science accepted as genuine-the whole concept that eating more chocolate would help you lose weight-so I really wouldn’t worry about this very much. Like Thumper pointed out, it drops an “average” man from maybe 20% to maybe 14%.

  7. If you “come 21 times a month or more” your risk of prostate cancer may be lowered. That’s 5 times a week or so. As opposed to someone who comes 12 times a month, or 8 times a month, or 4 times. All of which are still within the range of “normal frequency of orgasm.”

    Which means there are no behavioral conclusions to be drawn from this study, for me. More frequent prostate milking? What, to the point of 5 times a week? Once a week won’t do it. Plus, as Thumper says, who knows whether this is even related to removing ejaculate from the prostate, or to some other process during orgasm.

    I’m taking the risk and enjoying the reward. We don’t “milk.” There’s been experimentation, and I can’t tell the difference between a milking and a hands-free orgasm. Even with my cock limp, it twitches, I feel something like pleasure, and there’s a refraction period. It’s not worth doing.

    Let’s say the cancer risk is linked just to ejaculation and nothing else, and not orgasm. Unless that’s done 5 times a week, it won’t impact my cancer risk anyway, according to this study. Whether I ejaculate once a week, once a month or once a year makes no difference to my cancer risk, that I know of.

    No sense fretting.

  8. Another thing to consider with these studies is that correlation does not equal causation. A quick example: I can say that looking at ice cream for extended periods of time is LINKED TO me gaining weight, but looking at ice cream doesn’t CAUSE me to gain weight (the subsequent eating of said ice cream is what leads to that).

    In this case, perhaps it’s some behavior that men who ejaculate more often tend to partake in that actually causes the reduction in cancer risk, and not the ejaculations themselves.

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