Vasectomy Increases Risk of Aggressive Prostate Cancer

First Posted: Jul 12, 2014 09:05 AM EDT

Researchers from Harvard University say men who undergo a vasectomy have 10 percent increased chances of developing aggressive prostate cancer.

For the study, data of 49,400 men from the Health Professionals Follow-up Study was examined and they were followed for 24 years. Researchers noted 811 fatalities out of 6,023 cases of prostate cancer in the given time frame.

The study analysis found that vasectomy increases the risk of advanced prostate cancer by 20 percent and risk of developing fatal prostate cancer rises by 19 percent. The researchers found that even if men took necessary precautions they had 56 percent increased risk of getting fatal prostate cancer.

The results support the hypothesis that vasectomy is associated with an increased risk of advanced or lethal prostate cancer, study co-author Lorelei Mucci, associate professor of epidemiology at the Harvard School of Public Health, said in the university news release.

The study also noted 16 in 1,000 men developed lethal prostate cancer during 24 years of follow-up. Although the relative increase in the risk associated with vasectomy was significant, this translates to a comparatively small increase. "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," said co-author Kathryn Wilson, research associate in the Department of Epidemiology at HSPH.

The researchers recommend men to consult with their doctors regarding the risks involved with getting a vasectomy before making a decision.

The study was published in the 'Journal of Clinical Oncology.'

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