Vasectomy and Prostate Cancer Risk: A 38-Year Nationwide Cohort Study

J Natl Cancer Inst. 2020 Jan 1;112(1):71-77. doi: 10.1093/jnci/djz099.


Background: A man's risk of prostate cancer has been linked to his prior reproductive history, with low sperm quality, low ejaculation frequency, and a low number of offspring being associated with increased prostate cancer risk. It is, however, highly controversial whether vasectomy, a common sterilization procedure for men, influences prostate cancer risk.

Methods: We established a cohort of all Danish men (born between 1937 and 1996) and linked information on vasectomy, doctor visits, socioeconomic factors, and cancer from nationwide registries using unique personal identification numbers. Incidence risk ratios for prostate cancer by time since vasectomy and age at vasectomy during the follow-up were estimated using log-linear Poisson regression.

Results: Overall, 26 238 cases of prostate cancer occurred among 2 150 162 Danish men during 53.4 million person-years of follow-up. Overall, vasectomized men had an increased risk of prostate cancer compared with nonvasectomized men (relative risk = 1.15, 95% confidence interval = 1.10 to 1.20). The increased risk of prostate cancer following vasectomy persisted for at least 30 years after the procedure and was observed regardless of age at vasectomy and cancer stage at diagnosis. Adjustment for the number of visits to the doctor and socioeconomic factors did not explain the association.

Conclusions: Vasectomy is associated with a statistically significantly increased long-term risk of prostate cancer. The absolute increased risk following vasectomy is nevertheless small, but our finding supports a relationship between reproductive factors and prostate cancer risk.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Denmark / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / etiology*
  • Risk Assessment
  • Risk Factors
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Vasectomy / adverse effects*
  • Vasectomy / methods