Does Getting A Vasectomy Cause Prostate Cancer?

father and son outsideWhile the idea of getting “snipped” is painful for some men to even think about, actually having a vasectomy may lead to more than just temporary pain.  Findings from a new study published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology show that men who have the surgery have increased risk for fatal prostate cancer.

For 24 years (1986-2010), Harvard researchers tracked the health of 49, 405 U.S. men between the ages of 40 and 75. One in four men in the study reported having a vasectomy. More than 6,000 men were diagnosed with prostate cancer, with 811 fatal cases, during the study.

The men who had vasectomies had a 20 percent increased risk for developing the most aggressive form of prostate cancer and likewise, a 19 percent raised risk of death.

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Black Men & Prostate Cancer

Black men are two times more likely to be diagnosed with prostate cancer than Caucasian men and 2.5 times more likely than them to die from the disease.

“African-American men, in particular, display increased risk of suffering and death from prostate cancer, compared to men of other ancestral backgrounds. Black men are more likely to be diagnosed with prostate cancer, are diagnosed at a younger age, display larger tumors, and are more than twice as likely to die from prostate cancer that has spread throughout the body than white males ,” says Isla Garraway, MD, PhD, a prostate cancer researcher at UCLA.


Vasectomy 101

Besides condoms, having a vasectomy is the only other form of male birth control to prevent pregnancy.  An estimated one million men undergo vasectomies each year in the U.S. However, according to Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Black and Latino men receive the fewest vasectomies.

Considered a safe operation, a vasectomy is typically a short procedure (under two hours) done right in the doctor’s office or as an outpatient surgery under local anesthesia.

Like any other surgery, having a vasectomy does come with associated risks including infections, blood clots, long-term testicular pain and painful lumps in the scrotum (hematomas). The new findings on prostate cancer bring to light another potential risk to consider.

READ: Prostate Cancer: A Daily Checklist To Lower Your Risk

So, Does Getting A Vasectomy Cause Prostate Cancer?

The short answer is no. There isn’t an exact known causes of prostate cancer, but there are risk factors, such as being African American or of African descent.

Scientists behind the Harvard study emphasize that their findings only establish a statistical link  – and not a cause – between the disease and vasectomies. ‘The results support the hypothesis that vasectomy is associated with an increased risk of advanced or lethal prostate cancer,” said study co-author Lorelei Mucci, associate professor of epidemiology at Harvard School of Public Health.

Additional urgent investigation is needed to find out why men who had the procedure showed increased cancer risk.

In the meantime, if a trip to get snipped just got knocked waaaay down on your list of things to consider, condoms are still a 98% effective option. Use them EACH AND EVERY encounter.


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