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1000 cases of Prostate cancer reported each year

That prostate cancer is a major threat to men across the world is not in doubt. It is the most common form of cancer among men.

In Kenya, the disease has claimed lives of former Cabinet ministers Njenga Karume and John Michuki as well as former governor of Central Bank of Kenya Philip Ndegwa.

Africa and the world at large is mourning the death of South African trumpeter and anti-apartheid activist Hugh Masekela who died on Tuesday after a long battle with prostate cancer.

Its spread has been blamed on failure by men to go for regular check-ups. This compromises treatment, which is easier to manage with early detection.

Studies have shown men of African descent are twice likely to suffer from prostate cancer. However, there is no agreement why this is the case.

Reports have linked prostate cancer to sexual activity. That African men are more likely to suffer from the disease because they don't engage in sexual activity after a certain age is now a popular theory.

There is an argument that sexual activity lowers the risk of getting the disease. A new research supporting this thinking is attracting attention.

A study by experts from Boston, US, between 1991 and 2000 revealed that most sexually-active men had less chances of contracting prostate cancer.

The study involved about 30,000 men in the health profession, aged 46 to 81.

It linked less aggressive prostate cancer to frequent sexual activity.

The research showed men who had an average of five ejaculations in a month were more likely to develop prostate cancer compared to those who reported more than seven experiences.

Further, men who had the highest sexual activity, with ejaculations ranging between 13 to 20 a month, had the lowest cancer risks.

"Researchers hypothesise that sexual activity has a protective effect as the prostate secretes the bulk of the fluid in semen. Sexual activity may flush out cancer-causing chemicals," say the report published in Journal of the American Medical Association.

"A further hypothesis implicates repression of sexuality as a risk factor for prostate cancer and is derived from greater sexual drive coupled with deprived sexual activity.”

The researchers, from Harvard, assessed men’s ejaculation frequencies at different periods in their lifetimes.

It was an observational study thus only shows association, not causation. It is therefore possible that there is another factor common in men who ejaculate frequently that explains the reduced risk.

Ministry of Health's cancer guidelines show at least 1,000 new cases are reported each year. There are 850 deaths annually.

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