This study reported today, Sexual activity and prostate cancer risk in men diagnosed at a younger age,
is not about masturbation, promiscuity, or "rampant sex," as one
headline had it. It is about connecting the dots between hormonal
activity and prostate cancer.
It's been known for many years that hormonal activity is one factor
with a connection to prostate cancer. It is not the only factor. The study in
question found a history of higher sexual activity among a group of men under the age of 60 diagnosed with prostate cancer, when compared to a group of smae-aged men who were not
diagnosed with prostate cancer.
Sexual activity and prostate cancer risk in men diagnosed at a younger age was conducted by researchers at Nottingham University in Britain. It compared self-reported responses to a questionnaire given to roughly 400 men diagnosed with prostate cancer before the age of 60 and 400 men not diagnosed with prostate cancer.
Participants were asked questions about how many times they had sexual activity, how many times they had masterbated, how many sexual partners they had, and whether they had a sexually transmitted disease during four decades -- their 20's, 30's, 40's and 50's.
More differences in sexual behavior between the groups were found while the subjects were in their 20's and 30's. Men in the prostate cancer group reported greater frequency of sexual activity during the decades 20 - 29 and 30 - 39 than the control group. That they also reported a higher number of partners, more frequent masterbation, and a higher incidence of sexually transmitted diseases. But one cannot conclude that it is masterbation or promiscuity that "causes" prostrate cancer, simply that these activities provided more opportunities for sexual activity.
What this study did was to lower the age range for study of a prostate cancer population. In fact a similar study was conducted in 2004 with a population of less than 70-year-old prostate cancer patients, in which it was found that "ejaculatory frequency, especially in early adult life, is negatively associated with the risk of prostate cancer." However, that study found "no association of prostate cancer with the number of sexual partners or with the maximum number of ejaculations."
More research needs to be conducted in this area on a molecular level, as the 2004 study indicated, which could be much more meaningful. Questionnaires are not the perfect means of assessing cause and effect, particularly when asking subjects to remember what they did 20 or 30 years ago.
No, the current study is not good news, but it's not new news. And the jury is really still out.
(As a relevant aside, I learned today, that after several years of reading alarming reports connecting meat eating, especially grilled meat-eating, and breast cancer... I learned that there is absolutely no relationship between eating meat, not even meat burned to a crisp, and breast cancer. Source)
sources: BBC News; Science Daily; BJUI International; The Prostate Cancer Foundation
Keeping you posted...