A survey of more than 3,000 Montreal-area men has found those who reported having had more than 20 female sex partners are 28% less likely to develop prostate cancer than those who had slept with only one woman. Cue the avalanche of spuriously justified sexual decisions!

It is ambiguous whether the decreased likelihood of prostate cancer is linked to lots of sex, sex with different people, or lots of sex with different people. Via CBS:

Previous studies have suggested that frequent ejaculation can protect against prostate cancer, said senior study author Marie-Elise Parent, an associate professor at the University of Montreal School of Public Health. One possible explanation: the beneficial effect might be due to a reduction in the concentration of cancer-causing substances in prostatic fluid, the researchers said.

But don't bolt for the bedroom just yet. Parent termed the findings preliminary. And she added that they don't prove multiple partners protect against the disease, just that a link was uncovered between the two. So, men shouldn't use the findings as an excuse to sleep around.

"I don't think we can say that. But I think men want to hear that," she said. "It shouldn't be for prostate cancer that a man would decide to do that."

Dr. David Samadi, chairman of urology at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, agreed that the protective benefits found in this study come "not so much from the number of partners, but the frequency of ejaculation."

Also unclear is whether, assuming prostate cancer incident is linked to any of these things, the relationship is in any way causative, or if there's some weird correlation at work. For instance, the researchers found a man's risk of prostate cancer increased (albeit by a non-statistically significant amount) if he had slept only with other men – which, assuming more sex partners = more instances of orgasm, kind of undermines the hypothesis that an increase in ejaculation frequency provides a protective benefit against prostate cancer.

"Our findings are in support of a role for the number of sexual partners in [pancreatic cancer] development," the researchers write in the latest issue of the journal Cancer Epidemiology. "The gender of sexual partners should be taken into account in future studies investigating this association."

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via CBS

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