Vasectomy is a surgical procedure carried out on the man to prevent pregnancy as the tubes that carry sperms are permanently cut or sealed during the surgery. The procedure is done under local anesthesia and is 99% successful in preventing pregnancy while leaving your sexual function fully intact. Being such a simple, effective and an almost painless procedure with such a great advantage, the debate still exists whether this procedure would force individuals to become a bait to prostate cancer, the most common cancer in the male population. That’s because, there are several research papers that support or deny this clause and the results remain arbitrary.
It was initially during the 1980s that reports began to crop up and news spread linking the potential risk of prostate cancer due to vasectomy. Men hesitated to take up vasectomy, but the results were proved otherwise and normalcy returned. In 2015, yet another large study that worked upon the vasectomy-prostate cancer link showed a slightly higher risk of high-grade prostate cancer in men who had a vasectomy compared to men who didn’t. The latest study bares another dimension that shows no increased risk of prostate cancer or death due to the same in men who had undergone vasectomy.
The Grandeur Study
Researchers analyzed 53 studies that covered 15 million men who underwent vasectomy and followed up with them for 24 years. The team also controlled for the potential bias that men who had a vasectomy were more inclined to take care of their health by segregating the studies into three categories based on their risk of bias-high, medium or low. Matching their belief, researchers found that evidences linking vasectomy with prostate cancer was strongest in the more biased studies while the link chances were negligible in the low-bias study. There was no evidence showing any link between vasectomy and prostate cancer.
From the studies, the research team followed up around 50000 men who were aged between 40 and 75 years at the start of the study in 1986. They were followed up for 24 years during which a quarter of them (around 12000) had vasectomies. During the follow-up period, 6023 were diagnosed with prostate cancer amongst which almost 800 of them died from the disease. The researchers looked out for a comparison between men who were at a risk of cancer due to vasectomy and those men who were at a risk of cancer without vasectomy. Results showed that 12.4% of those who had a vasectomy developed prostate cancer compared to 12.1% of them who did not undergo the surgical procedure. Study results showed that overall, vasectomy was associated with a 10% increased risk of prostate cancer, 22% increased risk of high-grade cancer, 20% increased risk of advanced prostate cancer and 19% increased risk of prostate cancer with distant metastasis (cancer spreads to other body parts). This added only .3% absolute difference in cancer rates and given the huge nature of the study group, this difference is negligible.
The decision to opt for or opt out of vasectomy is highly personal and one must consider the pros and cons before deciding to go for it. You can always use a condom as these are 98% effective when used correctly and can also protect you against sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Read more on STIs and their effect on human body at www.firsteatright.com. Vasectomy reversal is expensive and not always successful if in case you change your mind about having children.
This is one huge study that is considerable solely based on its study size. The small potential risk of prostate cancer should not be disturbing and prevent one from having a vasectomy if the procedure is valued for its effective birth control method.
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Dietitian & Nutritionist Dr. Nafeesa Imteyaz.