Potent surgery

Vasectomy may not be all it's cut out to be

Published: Wednesday 31 May 1995

-- DOES'vasectomy lead to prostate cancer in the long run? Conflicting findings of studies abroad led the Indian Council of Medical Research to initiate in August 1994 a comprehensive hospital based study.

Due for completion in 2 years, the study is part of a World Health Organization multicountry evaluation which aims at establishing a link, if any, between vasectornised men and prostate cancer, and cardiovascular and urinary diseases.

"It will cover vasectomised and nonvasectomised married men in the age group of 50-plus," said C R Ramachandran, senior deputy direcTr general of Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, who is conducting the evaluation. A majority of the 13 million men vasectornised in India are over 50. "While vasectomy formed 74 per cent of -all sterilisations in 1970," he says, "it fell to a low of 4.2 per cent in 1991-92. The reasons haven't been documented. Documented benefits of vasectomy could assist in the national family welfare programme."

"The findings of these studies conducted abroad cannot be applied to the Indian context as the incidence of cardiovascular diseases and prostate cancer vary the world over. Also, these studies indicate that lifestyles could also be a factor, 11 adds Ramachandran.

But India is lucky. While 91.2 per 100,000 men have prostate cancer in the us, India has 1.9 to 7.1 per 100,000 men. But cardiovascular diseases are rampant here, with 22.5 million suffering from hypertension and 12 million from ischaernic heart disease.

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