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Vasectomy and Prostate Cancer, The Harvard Study Finds a Link
- Updated: July 11, 2014
Men who had a vasectomy before the age of 38 are at greater risk for prostate cancer than men who did not have a vasectomy, results of a study suggest.
The Harvard research on 50,000 men, the largest study to examine the link between sterilisation and cancer, found that having vasectomy is linked to an increased risk of suffering fatal prostate cancer. The findings of their study were published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.
Analysis of the data that came from the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study showed that during that time, 6,023 cases of prostate cancer were diagnosed, including 811 lethal cases. One in four of the men in this study reported having a vasectomy.
The researchers found the men who had a vasectomy had a 10 percent greater chance of developing the disease, and a 20 percent risk for advanced or lethal prostate cancer.
“This study follows our initial publication on vasectomy and prostate cancer in 1993, with 19 additional years of follow-up and tenfold greater number of cases. The results support the hypothesis that vasectomy is associated with an increased risk of advanced or lethal prostate cancer,” Lorelei Mucci, co-author of the study and an associate professor of epidemiology at the Harvard School of Public Health, said in a statement.
The authors cautioned however that they had only established a statistical link between the operation and the disease, which does not suggest that vasectomies were the direct cause of the cancer.
“The decision to opt for a vasectomy as a form of birth control is a highly personal one and a man should discuss the risks and benefits with his physician,” Kathryn Wilson, co-author of the study and research associate in the Department of Epidemiology, concluded.