A 2014 report from the Journal of Clinical Oncology by Mucci et al states there might be a very small increase in risk over all and a larger increased risk for advanced or lethal prostate cancer. The study from Harvard School of Public Health in Boston, MA, examined the correlation between vasectomy and prostate cancer in over 6000 US men with prostate cancer in the “Health Professionals Follow Up Study”. Men who had had a vasectomy had a very slight increase in relative risk of 1.1 (10% higher) and those with aggressive disease had a slightly higher risk of 1.2.
The authors actually get it right and most everyone else, particularly in the media, are getting it wrong. In their data set, there was an “association” of the two populations: Men with vasectomy and Men with prostate cancer. However, any suggestion that one causes the other is a myth.
Be wary of drawing conclusions from associations. A recent study from the UK published in the Journal of Men’s Health states that cycling is associated with an increased risk of prostate cancer and that the more cycling that is done, the higher the risk. The study fails to explain why countries that have heavy bicycle use such as China do not have a much higher incidence of prostate cancer. Could there be something else behind the association in their data set?
Finally, several other studies have not found any correlation between vasectomy and prostate cancer. In a 1999 study by Michael Brawer et al in Cancer, Epidemiology, Biomarkers and prevention published, a study of a more select population of over 700 patients with prostate cancer who were questioned with respect to a variety of possible associations. In addition to PSA, Patients were also questioned regarding demographics, reproductive history, stature, family history, smoking, alcohol consumption, sexual history and occupation. Finding revealed there was no statistically significant difference in the incidence of prostate cancer in vasectomy versus non vasectomy groups.
Therefore, at this point in time, I am comfortable stating that there is insufficient evidence to show concern of causing an increased risk of getting prostate cancer by having a vasectomy, but that there is testimony from many of my patients that they have less worry and more enjoyment from life after their birth control was put on autopilot.