Vasectomy raises risk of lethal prostate cancer, study shows

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couple in bed vasectomy prostate cancer risk oncology news australia 800x500Source: The Guardian – Ian Sample.

Danger seems to be highest among men who had a vasectomy before age 38, according to 24-year study of 50,000 men.

Men who have a vasectomy have a greater risk of developing the most aggressive form of prostate cancer, a study has found.

Harvard scientists analysed the medical records of nearly 50,000 men and found that those who had the operation were 10% more likely to be diagnosed with the disease.

The study revealed a stronger link with the most serious forms of prostate cancer, with rates of advanced or lethal disease rising by 20% in men who had the procedure. The danger seemed to be highest among men who had a vasectomy before the age of 38.

Cancer charities said the study was “extremely important” and urged doctors to discuss cancer risk with men who were considering sterilisation.

The most dangerous forms of prostate cancer are rare. Over the 24-year study, 1.6% of men developed lethal prostate cancer. A 20% increase would raise that figure to less than 2%.

Kathy Wilson, a co-author on the study at Harvard School of Public Health, said it was unclear how a vasectomy might raise the risk of prostate cancer, but one possibility was that the operation changed the protein composition of seminal fluid made in the prostate. “The underlying mechanisms really aren’t known, though, and will require more clinical and experimental studies,” she said.

The Harvard team analysed the medical records of 49,405 men for up to 24 years, from 1986 to 2010. During that time, 6,023 men were diagnosed with prostate cancer, and 811 men died from the disease. One in four who took part in the study had a vasectomy…read more. Read JCO paper.


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