One of the largest studies to date, conducted by the American Cancer Society, found no connection between vasectomies and the overall risk of prostate cancer. The new findings, published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, rules out all previously cited correlations and fears that had linked vasectomy with prostate cancer. A previous study by researchers at Harvard in 2014 had cited the high risk of prostate cancer in the aftermath of a vasectomy. They found that vasectomy was associated with about 10% higher overall risk of prostate cancer and about 20% higher risk of fatal prostate cancer.
For the study, cancer epidemiologist Dr. Eric Jacobs and colleagues at the American Cancer Society examined a vast sample of more than 7,000 cases of prostate cancer deaths. The new review had nearly 10 times more cases to examine than the 2014 study, which looked into 800 prostate cancer deaths. Researchers also analyzed data from 363,000 men above 40 years old who participated in the Cancer Prevention Study II. Of that number, 42,000 had a vasectomy. The new study focused on 7,400 prostate cancer deaths that took place during the span of the Cancer Prevention Study II, a period of 30 years. None of them gave any lead that vasectomy was a catalyst for cancer.
“Although a previous study suggested an association, our results show no connection between vasectomies and overall risk for prostate cancer, or of dying of prostate cancer, and should provide some reassurance to men considering vasectomy. Men concerned about developing a fatal prostate cancer should focus on maintaining a healthy weight and, if they smoke, quitting smoking. Both obesity and smoking having consistently been linked with high risk for fatal prostate cancer, as well as with risk for many other diseases.”
Eric J. Jacobs, PhD, cancer epidemiologist at the American Cancer Society
In addition, the study authors analyzed information on a subgroup of about 66,000 men from the same study. These men were followed, starting in 1992, for new diagnoses of prostate cancer. This group allowed the investigators to assess any link between vasectomy and overall risk of being diagnosed with prostate cancer. “It’s not clear why the two studies found somewhat different results,” said Jacobs. “It should be noted that the increase in risk of prostate cancer observed in the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study was relatively small, so the results of the two studies are not all that different. Sometimes study results differ by chance.”
Results of the study should alleviate any fears that a vasectomy will lead up to developing prostate cancer. Dr. Jacobs also noted that a vasectomy is an inexpensive method of birth control and that no man should be discouraged from getting one. You can read up more on their research findings, published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.