What happened to the concept that news reporting should be about recent events? The Internet is suddenly abuzz with "news" reports of a five-year-old Australian study that suggested that masturbating protects men against developing prostate cancer.
I called out the erroneous reporting yesterday. Since then, eFluxMedia has made the same journalistic mistake that Fox News and others made earlier this week. (Either that, or eFluxMedia intentionally passed off as news a story that its staff realized was old. More on that in a forthcoming post.)
If a study from 2003 is news, then I've got the scoop of the century. I found a study published just four years ago that suggests that not only masturbation but also wet dreams may protect against prostate tumors. That study, which more or less confirmed the Australian one, was led by Michael Leitzmann, a medical epidemiologist at the National Institutes of Health.
I reached him by phone a short time ago and asked if the Australian researchers were right to suggest that ejaculations may help fend off cancer.
"That's basically our bottom line as well," Leitzmann said. "Men who had more frequent ejaculations were protected against prostate cancer." There were differences between the studies, he added. "We didn't measure masturbation per se. We asked men their ejaculation frequencies," he said. "That would cover masturbation. It would also cover intercourse or nocturnal emissions."
And, I asked, the latest medical news on the subject is his 2004 report? "There's nothing more recent than that one," he answered.