Social media was a buzz when it surfaced that a study by Harvard Medical School revealed that men who ejaculated 21 or more times a month experienced a 31% lower risk of getting prostate cancer.
Most men were excited to learn about this while some, especially women, found that this is too much.
Dr Aire – a urologist at The Urology Hospital in Hatfield, Pretoria – is quite reluctant to agree with the study and cautions that the findings showed a decrease in only low-risk disease.
Factors like race, age, family history and lifestyle ought to be factored in by the men who might think 21 ejaculations will be a prevention for prostate cancer.
“Twenty-one is a lot. There have been other contradicting studies. But most of them agree that there’s a decrease in the incidence of the low-risk cancer. There’s no clear verdict for the high-risk cancer, from the study,” he says.
He points out the risk factors of prostate cancer are age, family history and race, none of these factors can be modified in anyway.
Dr Aire says prostate cancer is not one-size-fits-all and how it spreads or impacts one is totally different to how it will affect someone else.
“No one’s prostate cancer is the same as another person. Musician Hugh Masekela died at 78 years while former president Nelson Mandela died at 95 years of age and not necessarily from cancer,” he says, trying to prove his point about how it impacts one.
The good doctor quickly points out that one can have prostate cancer but not die of it.
He encourages men to go for their check-ups, as this is the most common cancer in men and fifth common in causing cancer-related deaths.
Because it’s common knowledge that most men don’t visit their doctors often enough, it’s hard to tell what the symptoms are.
“There could be symptoms or there may not be. In the early stages there are usually no symptoms,” Dr Aire says.
Black men must go for prostate-specific antigen (PSA) tests once they reach the age of 40, while other races can do so at age 45.
Dr Aire advocates for educating oneself and living a healthy lifestyle as much as possible. But even these won’t prevent cancer because its risk factors – age, race and family history – can’t be changed.