A recent article published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute brought up the decade’s old discussion of whether a vasectomy increases the risk of developing prostate cancer later in life. Danish researchers reviewed data of more than 2,000,000 Danish males and concluded that a vasectomy can increase the risk of prostate cancer by 15% when compared to non-vasectomized men.
Interestingly, the study also concluded that men who have had a vasectomy had a lower risk of developing other cancers later in life.
While I will not comment on the latter finding, I will go on record as stating that the conclusions regarding prostate cancer development are deeply flawed and are not supported by the data.
WHAT ARE THE STUDY FLAWS?
The flaws in the study are many. The first is that Danish men have very low screening rates for prostate cancer compared to many other countries including the United States. As a result of low screening, 31% of the prostate cancers diagnosed in the Danish study were advanced at the time of diagnosis. This flies in the face of prostate cancer detection in the modern PSA era where cancers are typically diagnosed at much earlier stages. To draw a conclusion, prostate cancer development rates when a population is not screened with PSA testing is simply not possible or reasonable. (Read more about Understanding Prostate Cancer.)
WHAT CONCLUSIONS CAN YOU DRAW?
Can I say that there is absolutely no relationship between having a vasectomy and developing prostate cancer? The answer is no because of all of the conflicting data that has emerged over the years. I will state that, on balance, the studies over the past several decades do not support a conclusion that having a vasectomy can cause prostate cancer. In fact, according to a March 2019 study, “Vasectomy and the risk of prostate cancer in a prospective,” by the National Institute of Health (NIH), their conclusion is “with over 20 years of follow-up, no convincing relationship between vasectomy and prostate cancer of any grade was identified.”
This debate will surely continue and why I continue to discuss this issue with patients who see me for a No Needle/No Scalpel Vasectomy procedure.
As always, if you have any further questions, contact Western States HIFU today!
This post was written by Western States HIFU