A shocking new study by Cancer Council NSW has found the more sexual partners a man has had, the greater his risk of developing prostate cancer.
Published in the International Journal of Cancer, the study found sexual activity is among a group of risk factors that, collectively, at least doubles disease risk.
Study author Dr Visalini Nair-Shalliker confirmed that men who’d had a lot of sex in their youth and early adulthood were at highest risk.
“Our study points towards men who engage in higher levels of sexual activity and start being sexually active earlier as being at a higher risk of prostate cancer,” he said.
While previous research had indicated that greater sexual activity in early adulthood actually reduced the risk of prostate cancer later in life, this new study suggests the opposite.
Those with the highest number of sexual partners in the study were found to be at greatest risk, especially when combined with other risk factors, such as a previous diagnosis of prostatitis or benign prostatic hyperplasia and a father with a history of prostate cancer.
The researchers believe the increased risk associated with one’s sexual activity could be due to hormonal changes.
“The role of sexual activity is not straightforward, due to its multifaceted nature. It’s an area that needs further exploration,” Dr Nair-Shalliker said.
“More research into exact mechanisms is needed, but what we do know is that a number of risk factors we looked at – for example, obesity and sexual activity – are associated with hormonal activity.
“Hormonal changes have been linked to prostate cancer initiation, so that’s the common potential underlying cause that we can see at this stage.”