Friday, April 25, 2008

Masturbation may prevent prostate cancer

Men can reduce their risk of developing prostate cancer by masturbating regularly, the BBC News reports of a new study by the Cancer Council Victoria in Melbourne, Australia. Why? Cancer-causing chemicals can accumulate in the prostate. Ejaculating regularly removes those potentially deadly chemicals.

The study included more than 1,000 men who had developed prostate cancer and 1,250 who had. Each man was quizzed about his sexual habits. The Australian researchers found that the men who had ejaculated the most between the ages of 20 and 50 were the least likely to develop the cancer. The protective effect of frequent masturbation was greatest for men in their 20s. Specifically, they found that men who ejaculated more than five times a week were 33 percent less likely to develop prostate cancer later in life.

It appears that sexual intercourse does not have the same protective effect because of the possibility of contracting a sexually transmitted infection, which can increase men's cancer risk, reports the BBC. In fact, previous research suggested that a high amount of sexual activity and high number of sexual partners increased a man's risk of developing prostate cancer by up to 40 percent. Lead study author Graham Giles concluded that this early work missed the protective effect of ejaculation because it focused on sexual intercourse, which has an associated risk of sexually transmitted diseases. Giles told New Scientist, "Had we been able to remove ejaculations associated with sexual intercourse, there should have been an even stronger protective effect of ejaculations." Ejaculation appears to prevent carcinogens from accumulating in the prostate gland, while fewer ejaculations may mean the carcinogens build up. "It's a prostatic stagnation hypothesis. The more you flush the ducts out, the less there is to hang around and damage the cells that line them," Giles explained to New Scientist.

A similar connection has been found between breast cancer and breastfeeding. Lactating appears to "flush out" carcinogens and reduce a woman's risk of the disease, New Scientist reports.

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