A 10% increase in the chance of prostate cancer?

Men who have a vasectomy have an increased chance of developing prostate cancer and a higher risk of contracting the most aggressive form of the disease, a major study has found.

The Harvard research on 50,000 men – the largest study to examine the links between sterilisation and cancer – found that those who underwent the procedure had a 10 per cent higher chance of developing the disease.

It also found a sharp increase in the risk of contracting the most aggressive form of prostate cancer, although researchers cautioned that overall risk of such disease is lower.

The effect appeared to be stronger among men who had a vasectomy at a younger age, researchers said, with the chance of developing aggressive disease increasing in those who had a vasectomy before the age of 38.

Hmm. Usually one would take these sorts of numbers with a pinch of salt. A 10% increase in the usually low risk of getting any one specific cancer isn’t all that much to write home about. But given that most men have some form of prostate cancer by the time something else kills them this is rather more important than that.

One in eight men will develop the disease within their lifetime, with the vast majority of cases occurring after the age of 65.

Having a little bit of it is rather higher than that. That’s the number for those that are noted while aliev isn’t it?

6 comments on “A 10% increase in the chance of prostate cancer?

  1. A 1.1 relative risk is very hard to isolate from background noise. I’m wondering about relative levels of promiscuity in men who have one compared to those who don’t, for instance. Especially as I’m a bit of a crank on this in thinking that it may end up that viruses are playing a much larger part in cancer than is currently realised.

  2. I thought prostate cancer was one thing you were almost guaranteed id nothing else killed you first.

  3. One in 8 means that you’ve got a 0.125 probability of getting Prostate Cancer and if it is equally distributed that a vasectomy will increase it 10% then that rises to 0.1375. Doesn’t look threatening. However, there is more than one strain of the disease and what this study looks like (I haven’t read the details on the report today) is that those who might be susceptible to the virulent strains are more likely to develop this as a result of the vasectomy. I think this is because it disturbs the flow from the testes. This probably means a greater concentration of testosterone lingers around the area. It is this hormone that is the main driver of Prostate Cancer and I can see that such an operation may have a significant impact on those who are most at risk. I do not think it is virus related as TimothyA suggests. The main risk factors are being Afro-Caribbean and having a relation (especially father) who has had the disease.
    So IMHO this is a significant finding.
    Peter

  4. Just as a general point, I’ve never been entirely convinced that blocking the only exit from the testes is a terribly wise idea, regardless of this. That’s from a general plumbing angle.

  5. Just a slight quibble. Isn’t testosterone the hormone causes the body to produce sperm? (amongst other effects) Rather than something contained in sperm.

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