Vasectomy doesn't increase risk of prostate cancer

By John Murphy, MDLinx
Published September 19, 2016

Key Takeaways

Men who’ve had a vasectomy do not have an increased risk of prostate cancer, and they are no more likely to die from prostate cancer than men who didn’t get a vasectomy, according to a 30-year follow-up study published September 19, 2016 in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

“While a previous study suggested an association, our results show no connection between vasectomies and overall risk of prostate cancer, or of dying from prostate cancer, and should provide some reassurance to men considering vasectomy,” said lead author Eric J. Jacobs, PhD, a cancer epidemiologist at the American Cancer Society, Atlanta, GA.

“Men concerned about developing a fatal prostate cancer should focus on maintaining a healthy weight and, if they smoke, quitting smoking,” Dr. Jacobs added. “Both obesity and smoking have consistently been linked with higher risk of fatal prostate cancer as well as with risk of many other diseases.”

For this study—the largest prospective study to date of the association between vasectomy and fatal prostate cancer—the researchers included more than 363,000 men age 40 and older from the Cancer Prevention Study II (CPS-II). Of these, 7,451 men died from prostate cancer during the study’s 30-year follow-up period. The researchers found that about 42,000 men in the study had undergone vasectomies. In an additional CPS-II subgroup of about 66,500 men, more than 9,100 were diagnosed with prostate cancer during the follow-up period.

After adjusting for age, race, education level, body mass index, and smoking status, the results showed no link between vasectomy and prostate cancer incidence or prostate cancer mortality. The study showed a slight increase in risk of nonaggressive prostate cancer during the last 5 years of follow-up; however, the authors noted that this may have been a chance finding.

“Because this study, like all observational studies, has some potential for bias, a small increase in risk cannot be entirely ruled out. However, our results provide some reassurance that vasectomy is unlikely to meaningfully increase risk of prostate cancer,” the authors concluded.

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