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Prostate Cancer and Sex

by J.H. Hacsi


Some men fear that increased sexual activity might make them more likely to develop prostate cancer. According to authors Patrick C. Walsh, MD, and Janet Farrar Worthington in their book Guide To Surviving Prostate Cancer published in 2001, this fear is unfounded. Studies indicate that sexual activity will decrease the risk, not increase it. In fact, the highest rate of prostate cancer occurs in celibate men.

In his book Prostate Health in 90 Days published in 1997, Larry Clapp, Ph.D., JD, writes that a healthy prostate depends upon a happy sex life. The prostate is a muscle. Muscles must be used on a regular basis to remain strong. Regular use also helps cleanse the gland.

One study showed that men who reported more ejaculations per month across their adult lives had a lower lifetime risk of developing prostate cancer than men who averaged fewer ejaculations per month.

Scientists speculated that this added protection for sexually more active men might be due to the fact that frequent ejaculations may lower the level of harmful chemicals in the prostatic fluid.

Another study indicated that frequent masturbation appears to help prevent prostate cancer. Enjoying an active sex life with numerous partners is less likely to lower the risk. With this pattern there is a much greater likelihood of picking up sexually transmitted diseases and these can weaken the prostate and make it more vulnerable to cancer.

While breast cancer is the second deadliest form of cancer for women, prostate cancer is the second deadliest form for men. Estimated new cases of prostate cancer for 2010 are 217,730 and estimated deaths 32,050. This means that about 10,000 more men are diagnosed with prostate cancer than are women with breast cancer but almost 8,000 fewer of them die of their cancers.

In 1966 the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine was shared between virologist Peyton Rous and Charles B. Huggins, M.D. Dr. Huggins was cited for his research on the relationship between hormones and prostate cancer.

In 1941, in collaboration with two students, Clarence V. Hodges and William Wallace Scott, Dr. Huggins had published three papers on the relationship between the endocrine system and the prostate gland. He had found that blocking the male hormones involved in prostate function regressed cancerous tumors.

The hormones could be blocked in either of two ways: by removing the testicles that produced the hormones or by administering estrogen, a female hormone, to neutralize the male hormones. The later method of “chemical castration” helped Dr. Huggins win the Nobel Prize and estrogen remains a common therapy in the treatment of prostate cancer.

Render a man biologically less of a man, relieve the hormonal pressures that shout at him to be a man, and he will suffer less pain from the tumor in his prostate.

The prostate is a small gland located under the bladder in front of the rectum. The gland surrounds part of the urethra, through which flow both urine and semen. The enlargement of this gland occurs in a high percentage of men after they enter their fifties. This enlargement, pressing against the urethra, can cause frequent, slow or painful urination. Smaller glands within the prostate manufacture about twenty percent of the seminal fluid. The cells in these prostate glands, if they turn wild, create malignant tumors. Prostate cancer affects both urinary and sexual functions. Erection may become difficult to achieve and ejaculation painful.

Prostate cancer is for the most part a disease of men over sixty though it can occur a few years earlier. The average age of diagnosis is sixty-nine. It is a slow growing cancer and many men have no symptoms, are never treated for it and die of other causes, unaware that their prostates harbor malignant tumors. It is the most common type of cancer in American and British men. Americans and Europeans have a rate ten times higher than men in some Asian and Middle Eastern countries. The same is true of breast cancer. Countries that have a high rate of prostate cancer also suffer a high rate of breast cancer.

Clearly western countries are doing something wrong but no scientific study has been able to pinpoint what that something is.

About eight weeks after conception, the male fetus gets a dose of testosterone. This hormone begins killing off cells in the communication, observation and emotion processing centers of the brain. At the same time it begins growing cells in the sex and aggression centers. Thus does nature shout to the male fetus: “Grow up to be a man, my son.”

Some males come into life ready and willing to control their aggressive and sexual impulses. Others lead outlaw lives in which they don’t bring either impulse under control. Between these two extremes are men who work to control themselves either to please the women in their lives or to avoid trouble. Some of these men may decide, especially as they age and begin to feel diminished, that they restrained themselves too harshly, especially in the sexual arena, that they never allowed themselves to become what nature programmed them to be – wild, adventurous and free.

If this message of regret is impressed month after month, year after year, upon the body, testosterone may go into action in the prostate and create a new, freer life the only way it can. Cells rebel, turn primitive and become wild and adventurous again, creating a cancerous tumor.

Studies show that those men who were harder to tame, who enjoyed a freer sex life over their lifetime, built up protection against prostate cancer. They may also have built up protection against any later regret that they were too easily restrained and didn’t live as adventurous a sexual life as they wished they had.

One common treatment for this cancer is estrogen, the female hormone, used to neutralize the male hormone testosterone. Dampen down a man’s urge to be more of a man – a more sexually active man – and his cancer is often cured.

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Excerpted from Plagues Past and Present, A Mind/Body/Approach by J. H. Hacsi. Paper, $14.

Available at Baker and Taylor, www.Amazon.com or on order from any bookstore.

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J. H. Hacsi graduated from the University of California at Berkeley, is a member of Phi Beta Kappa, and earlier in her life wrote short stories (over 200 published) and romance novels (eight published). Throughout her life she has been greatly interested in history and science, also the role of the mind and mysticism and has read widely in these fields. She is a widow with five sons and five grandchildren and lives in Claremont, CA.


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