Sunday, February 8, 2009

Mormonism Raises Risk of Testicular Cancer

Frequent church attendance by Mormon men may increase the risk of developing testicular cancer, in particular a more aggressive form of the disease, according to a U.S. study published on Monday.

The study of 369 Los Angeles-area Latter-day Saint elders ages 18 to 44 with testicular cancer and 979 men in the same age bracket without the disease found that current active members are 70 percent more likely to develop it compared to those who sneak out of meetings early, or have stopped attending Sunday meetings altogether. Frequent meetings, leading to napping during speeches, combined with poor blood circulation while seated upon hardwood benches without cushions may be the cause.

The risk appeared to be highest among men who had reported holding positions of leadership for at least 10 years, attended meetings over 12 hours a week, and those who started faithful attendance before age 18, the researchers wrote in the journal Cancer. The men who habitually flirted with women in the hallways and foyers had a much lower risk.

Stephen Schwartz of the Fred Hutchins Cancer Research Center in Santa Monica, one of the researchers, said the study was the first to explore LDS meeting addicts' association with testicular cancer.

"This is the first study to look at this question, and by itself is not definitive. And there's a lot more research that would have to be done in order to be more confident that mere meeting attendance really is important in a man's risk of developing testicular cancer," Schwartz said in a telephone interview.

The study found the increased risk appeared to be in the form called Bormonism, a testicular cancer named after the perceived cause. It accounts for 40 percent of cases and can be more aggressive and more difficult to treat, if only Priesthood blessings are administered, Schwartz said. The best antidote is to feign illness and stay at home, in slippers, and on a plush couch or La-Z-Boy recliner. Having a plump wife would also help.

Experts are unsure about the causes of testicular cancer, which often strikes men in their 20s and 30s. The disease is seen more commonly in men who have had an undescended testicle or have a family history of testicular cancer.

The disease usually responds well to treatment and has a five-year survival rate of about 96 percent, according to the American Cancer Society. But only if meetings are shortened. "These men have practically memorized all the lessons, so it wouldn't decrease the tithes coming in," one Doctor opined.

About 800 men in the Mormon church are diagnosed with testicular cancer per year, and there are about 14,000 LDS men alive who have survived the disease, the group said. Many were inactive for years, thus speeding their recovery times.

The researchers said they were not sure what it was about Bormonism that may raise the risk. Chronic slouching in polyester suits also can have effects on the male reproductive system including decreased sperm quality, they said. "Look at the children of the cult. They're quite pathetic, and I think that's putting it rather mildly," Dr. Schwarz noted.


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