According to a recent article in the Journal of the American Medical Association, there does not appear to be an increased risk of developing prostate cancer in men who have had a vasectomy.
The prostate is a male sex gland that is located between the bladder and the rectum. It is approximately the size of a walnut and produces a substance that forms a component of semen. Prostate cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in men in the United States. Different cancers can be caused by different things, but the specific causes may be multifactorial and are not yet fully understood. To help prevent, detect, and treat the various types of cancer, researchers continue to study what causes or increases a person’s risk for developing these cancers. When persons are at an increased risk for developing a type of cancer, this means that they have certain characteristics or exposures, called risk factors, that make them more likely to develop that type of cancer than those who do not have these risk factors. Risk factors may be genetic, meaning a person is born with genes that predispose them to develop a cancer. Risk factors may also be environmental, meaning the cancer is more likely to develop if a person is exposed to certain (nongenetic) risk factors in his or her environment, such as tobacco use, diet, exercise, infections, or personal or family experiences. Researchers have been investigating ways to reduce the risk of developing prostate cancer. Some clinical studies have suggested that a vasectomy, a surgical procedure for male sterilization, may be associated with an increased risk of developing prostate cancer, while other clinical studies have not been able to find an association between vasectomy and risk of prostate cancer.
Researchers from New Zealand recently sought to determine if there was an increased incidence of prostate cancer among men who have had a vasectomy by conducting a large clinical study. This study included over 900 patients between the ages of 40 and 74 who were newly diagnosed with prostate cancer and over 1,220 men without prostate cancer. Variables such as social class, geographic region, religious affiliation and a family history of prostate cancer were also taken into consideration. The researchers were unable to find an association between the incidence of prostate cancer and vasectomy, even in patients who had received a vasectomy over 25 years or more.
These researchers concluded that a vasectomy does not increase the risk of prostate cancer. Furthermore, these results indicated a lack of association between a long-term risk of developing prostate cancer following a vasectomy. These researchers hope that these findings may reduce anxiety in some patients who have undergone a vasectomy.
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