A worldwide study involving more than 80 countries found a significant link between oral contraceptive use and increased prostate cancer cases and deaths. The reason, supported by several studies, suggests that estrogen exposure increases the risk of prostate cancer and, more specifically, that the high concentration of estrogen in birth control pills is released in urine and ends up contaminating the local water supply. The transmission of estrogen through the water supply is believed to have a link to increased rates of prostate cancer in men.

Data from both the International Agency for Research on Cancer and the United Nations World Contraceptive Use 2007 was analyzed. The surprising results were consistent in all countries studied and were not affected by a country’s wealth. No correlation was found between other forms of contraception (intrauterine devices, condoms, and vaginal barriers) and an increase in the incidence of prostate cancer. Prostate cancer has been associated with sexual transmission, but in this wide-ranging study, sexual activity had no impact.

To date, established risk factors for prostate cancer are age, ethnicity, and family history. The exposure to oral contraceptives and increased estrogen levels in the environment can now be added to the list.

Dudley S. Danoff, MD, FACS is the attending urologic surgeon and founder/president of the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center Tower Urology Group in Los Angeles, California. He is the author of Penis Power: The Ultimate Guide To Male Sexual Health (Del Monaco Press, 2011) and Superpotency (Warner Books).

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