DoesVasectomyIncrease Prostate Cancer Risk?

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A large 2017 study says no. Over the past 25 years, however, research has produced conflicting results about this potential risk, for which there is no established biological rationale. For instance, a large 2014Harvard studyof health professionals found a small increased risk in men with vasectomies (often decades after the procedure), but a large 2016study from the American Cancer Societydid not.

Thenew studyfollowed nearly 85,000 European men (15 percent with vasectomies) for 15 years and found no link between the procedure and overall, high-grade, or advanced-stage prostate cancer. All three studies were published in theJournal of Clinical Oncology.

What factors have been shown to increase the risk of prostate cancer?

  • Increasing age.
  • Family history. Having a brother or father with prostate cancer more than doubles your risk (brother more so than father). Your risk is even higher if several of your relatives have had the cancer, especially if they were young when it was found.
  • Race. Black men are 60 percent more likely to develop it than white men, and more than twice as likely to die from it.
  • Genes. Men who inherit certain genetic mutations (notably of the BRCA gene, best known for increasing the risk of breast and ovarian cancer) have elevated rates of prostate cancer.