A few different customers pointed out research regarding frequency of ejaculations and prostate cancer risks. For instance, George wrote in:
“You might be interested to know that researchers at two Australian universities have confirmed that young men aged 15/16 who had masturbated and ejaculated at least 20 times/month had not experienced prostate problems in later life. As a case in point, I jacked off very frequently when a teen but now in my 80s no sign (yet) of prostate trouble.”
Certainly this is an interesting line of research. Though my “spidey sense” went off regarding the word “confirmed”. Having studied science I know that what is stated as confirmed is seldom actually that. So off to PubMed I went to look through the research, and here’s what I found.
Indeed, there were studies that found an inverse correlation between ejaculation frequency (EF) and prostate cancer (PCa).
For instance, Ejaculation Frequency and Risk of Prostate Cancer: Updated Results with an Additional Decade of Follow-up where they concluded “These findings provide additional evidence of a beneficial role of more frequent ejaculation throughout adult life in the etiology of PCa, particularly for low-risk disease.” The results here were statistically significant though “modest”.
There are lots of studies, far more than just two from Australia. However, as is typical in science, some also found no results.
Since I didn’t want to read through every study, I found some reviews and meta-analysis that did the work of looking at all these to try to get a better idea of the real results.
One of these, Evidence for Masturbation and Prostate Cancer Risk: Do We Have a Verdict?, looked at sixteen studies. Of these, seven of the studies found protective benefit from more frequent ejaculation, but nine did not.
The best and most complete that I found followed the PRISMA guidelines that I’ll select quotes from below. Sexual Activity and Risk of Prostate Cancer: A Dose-Response Meta-Analysis.
In summary, “Meta-analysis of the included studies indicated that men with fewer sexual partner numbers, older age at first intercourse, and moderate frequent ejaculation were associated with a significantly decreased risk of PCa”
More specifically, “Every 10 female sexual partners increment was associated with 1.10-fold increase of PCa risk.” This was hypothesized to be related to STI risk, a confounding variable.
“The risk of PCa was decreased by 4% for every 5-year delay in age at first intercourse.” This too was hypothesized to be due to less STI risk.
“A non linear dose-response association was found between EF and PCa risk for the overall study. As for EF, the protecting trend showed an increase from 1-4 times per week, followed by a decrease with further increase of EF. 4 times per week was confirmed to be the lowest summary [odds ratio].”
So four times per week, which would come out to approximately 16 to 18 times per month. That’s pretty close to that 20 times number mentioned earlier.
However, we shouldn’t necessarily take this number to the bank.
As I’ve covered recently there are massive problems in PCa diagnosis. That alone might just make all this research worthless. In short, how many of the cancers were really cancers? Though likely these problems would be spread throughout the different groups.
And in fact, the researcher them spoke of this limitation. “Although we revealed the association between [sexual activity] and risk of PCa, absence of information on PCa grade or stage still limited the interpretation because many of these cancers were likely indolent, not clinically relevant.”
Then there is the problem of the chicken or the egg. More sexual activity happens in people that are generally healthier. This is because libido and sex drive are a “canary in the coal mine” for many health issues.
Therefore, less sexual activity could be the result rather than the cause.
Still, this is an interesting line of research. It’s also worth mentioning WHY ejaculation may be helpful for prostate health. This study mentions that the “prostate stagnation hypothesis suggested frequent ejaculation was thought to reduce the concentration of carcinogenic substances within prostatic fluid.” There were some more technical reasons mentioned, but that main concept, that of prostate stagnation might be helpful. In other words, there just may be something to the idea of “clearing the pipes,” that this in fact could be considered “detoxing”.
In my mind, George is quick to jump to conclusions. Maybe masturbation over the years helps. But maybe it doesn’t. It’s easy to jump to science being confirmed when it supports what you believe and do.
As with all things, the cause of cancer is multi-factorial. So we certainly can’t say with any sort of confidence whether George’s specific case was helped by this act.
It often seems like a cop-out but more science is needed. And in something so long term as this complex biology (how much you masturbate in your teenage years affecting cancer risk at 60+!) is not something that reductive science is great at actually proving.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention there are Daoist practices of semen retention that are supposed to be good for your health. I’d be curious to see if there’s any data on those who aim for multiple male orgasms (separated from ejaculation) and their prostate cancer risk. But I didn’t see any in my quick search. That is considered an anti-aging practice, and if indeed it was linked to increased chances of prostate cancer especially aggressive forms, that would seem to be anything but.
In conclusion, I would definitely not say the science is settled, but when you do ejaculate you might as well think that it is helping to support your health in many different ways.
One thing I can say for sure is that some herbs can help support the prostate in a variety of ways which you can read about in this article.