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Age, masturbation, intercourse, and prostate cancer risk

Posted Dec 12 2008 3:39pm

Dimitropoulou et al.  have reported data from a case-control study in > 800 men in the United Kingdom. The study was designed to investigate whether there is a real association between the frequency of sexual activity (intercourse, masturbation, overall) and prostate cancer risk in men diagnosed at ≤ 60 years of age. The results of this study are interesting, but it should be emphasized how much the results of studies like this are biased by the honesty and accuracy of the study participants. 

In total, 431 prostate cancer patients and 409 controls participated and provided information on their sexual activity. The frequencies of intercourse and masturbation during the participants’ different age decades (20s, 30s, 40s, and 50s) were collected. The “New” Prostate Cancer InfoLink would immediately point out that many boys’ are sexually active at much younger ages than their 20s, possibly beginning to masturbate at ages under 10 years and participate in intercourse by the time they are in their mid to late teens. The lack of this information may be important, and we are surprised that the study did not seek this information. It’s not exactly a secret!

With this limitation, the study showed the following:

  • Frequent overall sexual activity in younger life (20s) increased overall prostate cancer risk.
  • Frequent overall sexual activity appeared to be protective against the disease when older (50s).
  • Frequent masturbation was a marker for increased risk in the 20s and 30s.
  • Frequent masturbation appeared to be associated with a decreased risk for men in their 50s, while intercourse activity alone was not associated with disease risk for men in this age group.

The authors note that these results potentially imply more than one mechanism by which sexual activity is involved in the etiology of prostate cancer at different ages. They also observe that higher levels of sexual activity at younger ages may (at least in part) explain the protective effect seen for men in their 50s (”reverse causation”).

We can expect the results of this study to be front page news in certain types of newspaper. Unfortunately, we suspect that the study is fatally flawed by the lack of information about these men at even younger ages. Any psychologist can tell us that sexual behaviors are highly predicated on very early behavioral learning and activity. It would perhaps be critical to have more information about when each individual in this study started to become sexually active at a significant level in order to understand the significance of the data collected by this group.

Filed under: Diagnosis, Prevention, Tips | Tagged: risk, masturbation, intercourse, sexual activity

Dimitropoulou et al.  have reported data from a case-control study in > 800 men in the United Kingdom. The study was designed to investigate whether there is a real association between the frequency of sexual activity (intercourse, masturbation, overall) and prostate cancer risk in men diagnosed at ≤ 60 years of age. The results of this study are interesting, but it should be emphasized how much the results of studies like this are biased by the honesty and accuracy of the study participants. 

In total, 431 prostate cancer patients and 409 controls participated and provided information on their sexual activity. The frequencies of intercourse and masturbation during the participants’ different age decades (20s, 30s, 40s, and 50s) were collected. The “New” Prostate Cancer InfoLink would immediately point out that many boys’ are sexually active at much younger ages than their 20s, possibly beginning to masturbate at ages under 10 years and participate in intercourse by the time they are in their mid to late teens. The lack of this information may be important, and we are surprised that the study did not seek this information. It’s not exactly a secret!

With this limitation, the study showed the following:

  • Frequent overall sexual activity in younger life (20s) increased overall prostate cancer risk.
  • Frequent overall sexual activity appeared to be protective against the disease when older (50s).
  • Frequent masturbation was a marker for increased risk in the 20s and 30s.
  • Frequent masturbation appeared to be associated with a decreased risk for men in their 50s, while intercourse activity alone was not associated with disease risk for men in this age group.

The authors note that these results potentially imply more than one mechanism by which sexual activity is involved in the etiology of prostate cancer at different ages. They also observe that higher levels of sexual activity at younger ages may (at least in part) explain the protective effect seen for men in their 50s (”reverse causation”).

We can expect the results of this study to be front page news in certain types of newspaper. Unfortunately, we suspect that the study is fatally flawed by the lack of information about these men at even younger ages. Any psychologist can tell us that sexual behaviors are highly predicated on very early behavioral learning and activity. It would perhaps be critical to have more information about when each individual in this study started to become sexually active at a significant level in order to understand the significance of the data collected by this group.

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