Does Vasectomy increase the risk for prostate cancer?

Two decades ago, several studies showed conflicting results on the correlations between vasectomy and prostate cancer, which received media attention at that time. The current conclusion is that there is an insufficient basis for recommending any change in the current clinical practice on vasectomy.

You should know these three important concepts on this issue.

• The validity of a study depends on how well the study is designed. Researchers have to consider all possible compounding factors that affect the results.
• Since the causes of prostate cancer remain unknown, it has been impossible to assure that the risk factors for the illness were equally distributed between the vasectomized and nonvasectomized men.
• There is an absence of a biological explanation of how vasectomy might lead to prostate cancer.

In 1991, the World Health Organization (WHO) expert meeting concluded that a causal relationship between vasectomy and prostate cancer was unlikely. In 1993, the NICHD expert meeting concluded that the positive associations between vasectomy and prostate cancer found in some studies may or may not be valid. Most physicians in Minnesota have been guided by NICHD’s expert panel of 1993 which concluded there is an insufficient basis for recommending any change in current clinical or public health practice. Providers should continue to offer the vasectomy procedure. It has a long track record as a safe and effective method of male contraception.

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