Vasectomy, a widely used form of contraception, has been associated in some studies with increased prostate cancer risk.
We assessed this association on the basis of data collected in a large multiethnic case-control study of prostate cancer that was conducted in the United States (Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Hawaii) and Canada (Toronto and Vancouver).
In home interviews conducted with newly diagnosed prostate cancer case patients and population control subjects, we obtained information on the participants' medical history, including a history of vasectomy and the age at which the procedure was performed, as well as other potential risk factors. Blood samples were collected from control subjects only and were assayed for concentration of sex hormones and sex hormone-binding globulin.
The present analysis was based on 1642 prostate cancer patients and 1636 control subjects. A history of vasectomy was not significantly associated with prostate cancer risk among all racial/ethnic groups combined (odds ratio [OR] = 1.1; 95% confidence interval [CI] = 0.83-1.3), whites (OR = 0.94; 95% CI = 0.69-1.3), blacks (OR = 1.0; 95% CI = 0.59-1.8), or Chinese-Americans (OR = 0.96; 95% CI = 0.42-2.2). Among Japanese-Americans, the OR was 1.8 (95% CI = 0.97-3.4), but the statistically nonsignificant elevation in risk was limited to more educated men and those with localized cancers. ORs did not vary significantly by age at vasectomy or years since vasectomy. We found a lower serum concentration of sex hormone-binding globulin and a higher ratio of dihydrotestosterone to testosterone among vasectomized control subjects than among nonvasectomized control subjects.
The findings of this study do not support previous reports of increased prostate cancer risk associated with vasectomy. However, the altered endocrine profiles of vasectomized control subjects seen in this cross-sectional comparison warrant further evaluation in longitudinal studies.