Vasectomy linked to greater risk of prostate cancer

A study by scientists at Havard University found having a vasectomy is linked to a 10 per cent increased risk of developing the most lethal form of prostate cancer.
Photo / Thinkstock
A study by scientists at Havard University found having a vasectomy is linked to a 10 per cent increased risk of developing the most lethal form of prostate cancer. Photo / Thinkstock

Men who undergo the snip increase their risk of suffering fatal prostate cancer, new research suggests.

A study by Harvard scientists has found that having a vasectomy is linked to a 10 per cent increased risk of receiving a diagnosis of prostate cancer.

The research - the largest ever examination of the link between vasectomy and prostate cancer - involved data from 50,000 men whose health was tracked for 24 years.

It found a men who had the contraceptive operation were particularly likely to get an advanced or lethal form of the disease.

Vasectomy is a common form of contraception, and is more popular in Britain than almost anywhere else in the world.

Some 16 per cent of British men under 70 have had the operation.

Prostate cancer, meanwhile, is the second-leading cause of cancer death among men.

The researchers, whose work is published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, analysed the health records of 49,405 American men who were followed from 1986 to 2010.

During that time, 6,023 cases of prostate cancer were diagnosed, including 811 lethal cases.

One in four of the men in the study reported having a vasectomy.

The researchers found that men who had a vasectomy had a particularly raised risk of developing the most aggressive forms of prostate cancer which are most likely to kill.

They had a 20 per cent raised risk of getting an advanced form of the disease, and a 19 per cent raised risk of dying.

The authors emphasised that their study had only established a statistical link between the operation and the disease - and they did not suggest that vasectomies were directly causing the cancer.

They concluded, however, that urgent investigation was needed to establish if and why the surgical procedure might be increasing the numbers of those with cancer.

"The findings of this study warrant continued epidemiologic and experimental research into clarifying the association of vasectomy with prostate cancer," they wrote.

Author Kathryn Wilson said: "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."

- Daily Mail

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