Risk Factors for and Causes of Chronic Prostatitis

Several epidemiological risk factors have been identified for chronic prostatitis. Among them are sexual abuse, hypertension, and neurosis. Similarly, in specific populations, such as Latino immigrants, prostatitis appears to be associated with a higher likelihood of prostate cancer. However, in broad general terms, epidemiological research has not yet identified an easily reversible risk factor for chronic prostatitis.

The acute form of prostatitis mentioned above is generally caused by infectious agents, such as common bacteria; there are rare cases of acute prostatitis caused by fungus, tuberculosis, gonorrhea, and other infectious agents. So bacteria and other infectious agents are clear causes of acute prostatitis.

By contrast, the causes of chronic prostatitis are not clear. That said, there are some interesting experimental data using animals that suggest the possible involvement of the psychosocial and chemical environment. For example, stressing rats – by sleep deprivation, refrigeration – causes changes in the tissues of their prostates, but not other organs, that are consistent with what is seen in human prostatitis. Likewise, exposing rats to the agricultural antifungal Vinclozolin causes prostatitis in their offspring. The relevance to human diseases is not known, but the animal observations open new conceptual directions for further human research.