You see the topic come up over and over again, so let’s be clear: there is no demonstrated relationship between celibacy and risk for prostate cancer, and there are historic data to back this up.
Back in the 1980s, Michalek et al. specifically investigated the possible role of a celibate lifestyle in the etiology (development) of prostate cancer. To do this, they studied mortality data from an average annual cohort of 6,226 Roman Catholic clergymen in New York State from 1965 through 1977.
The death certificates of 1,006 priests were reviewed. Of these deaths, 156 (15.5 percent) were attributable to malignant forms of cancer. However, when these data were compared to the known mortality patterns among white males of comparable ages in New York State over the same period of time, the priests demonstrated:
- Overall mortality ratios that were 15 percent lower for all causes of death
- Cancer mortality ratios that were 30 percent lower for all forms of cancer
In addition, Michalek et al. identified only 12 deaths from prostate cancer as compared to a projected number of 19.8. This represents a prostate cancer mortality experience that was actually 39 percent lower than that of the general, non-celibate population.
The same study showed that lower mortality ratios were found also for cancers of the lung, the colon and rectum, and the stomach. On the other hand, higher mortality ratios were found for malignant melanoma and unspecified respiratory organs.