The University of Montreal has provided men with a reason to be very happy by publishing results of a study which suggests that the threat of prostate cancer is significantly reduced by sleeping around. More accurately; the study did not recommend that a man sleep with a different woman every night, but that multiple partners over the course of a lifetime may reduce the risk of developing prostate cancer.
The study was based on a questionnaire sent out to 3,208 men; 1,590 of whom had been diagnosed with prostate cancer between 2005 and 2009 – the remainder constituted the control group. The basic findings of the study highlighted several points: Celibacy almost doubled the risk of developing prostate cancer; sleeping with multiple male partners also doubled the risk, although having only one male partner did not increase the risk factor; sleeping with multiple female partners reduced the risk by almost 30 percent. One of the leading authors of the study pointed out that the number of homosexual men surveyed meant that the findings regarding male partners was possibly insignificant.
The research was the center of PROtEuS (Prostate Cancer & Environment Study) project, which studied not only the sexual habits of the subjects, but also lifestyle and environmental factors. The project is conducted by the University of Montreal and the Institut Armand-Frappier – also in Montreal. Professors Marie-Elise Parent and Marie-Claude Rousseau and colleague Andrea Spence – all specialists in the field of prostate cancer – and the findings were published in Cancer Epidemiology under the title Sexual partners, sexually transmitted infections, and prostate cancer risk. Parent noted the enthusiastic response to their findings. “After I presented these findings at a scientific conference,” she said, “the guys were all very excited to come over and talk to me. They were like, ‘What a great public health recommendation!'”
For the purpose of these results, the number of different sexual partners was determined to be 20: For men who had slept with at least 20 different women during the course of their lives, the risk of developing prostate cancer was reduced by 28 percent – 19 percent for the more aggressive types of cancer. Parent explains that having a number of female partners may increase the frequency of ejaculation, which provides a protective effect. Previous research in this field has suggested that sexual intercourse may reduce the build-up of carcinogenic substances in the prostate.
After skin cancer, prostate cancer is the most common cancer among men in the United States. According to the American Cancer Society’s estimates, Around 233,000 cases of prostate cancer will be diagnosed in 2014. One in seven men will develop this cancer in their lifetimes, although it is very treatable if detected in time. Screening is recommended for men aged 50 and over, but men aged 40, with high risk factors for prostate cancer, are advised to discuss the subject the subject with a doctor.
Future medical guidelines, however, may not recommend sleeping around as a way to reduce the risk of prostate cancer. When asked if public health authorities should begin advising men to sleep with more women, Parent responded “We’re not there yet.”
Graham J Noble
University of Montreal