Many concerned individuals often question the 19th century author, Ellen White's statements on the evils of masturbation. She listed numerous physical and neurological problems, including loss of sight. She said it would be years before scientists discover what the Lord has shown her. The following scientific advances will undoubtedly help us understand these revelations.
First, much of Ellen White's comments on the harmful effects of masturbation can be attributed to zinc depletion. Zinc levels are high in mucous secretions and that secreted as saliva or digestive components is recycled through the enteropancreatic cycle where zinc is reabsorbed by the colon, but zinc in vaginal and seminal fluids become the major vehicle for loss, in varying secretion quantities among individuals; therefore, zinc must be replaced through proper diet or supplements. Diets low in zinc exacerbate zinc deficiency and refined (white) flour contains 75% less zinc than whole grains; greater losses occur in pastries not utilizing yeast because yeast degrades phytates that bind with and inhibit mineral absorption; interestingly, oysters are the highest food source of zinc which might explain why they are considered an aphrodisiac.
In sexually active adolescents and promiscuous adults, the greatest zinc loss is in sexual fluids. "Estimated secretion of 5 ml (one teaspoon) of seminal fluid represents the loss of perhaps all the zinc that can be absorbed in one day".* Among other disorders, chronic zinc deficiency also damages the central nervous system causing nervousness, irratibility, and altered brain function. Says Dr. David Horrobin, M.D. and Ph.D. from Oxford University: "It is even possible, given the importance of zinc for the brain, that 19th century moralists were correct when they said that repeated masturbation could make one mad."*
Zinc deficiency is also associated with abnormal skeletal-system development because zinc is essential for proper collagen synthesis. If this occurs in early life, dwarfism may result, and is partially reversable through zinc supplementation. Collagen is the building material for bone, teeth, ligaments, cartilage, and tendons, as well as skin and artery strength. Collagen forms a foundation matrix upon which calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, and other minerals and proteins build upon; thus, masturbation or zinc deficiencies may be characterized by abnormalities in ligament, bone, spine, or joint development and function.
Often victims of masturbation or satyrs may be observed with flaking skin, with the epidermis assuming a pink or inflamed hue as if it was over-washed with an abrasive. These problems do not, however, stop with weakened epithelial tissue because zinc is the retinol-binding protein that transports vitamin A.
Because zinc deficiency directly impairs vitamin A metabolism, vitamin A-deficiency symptoms often appear. One of the first symptom is night blindness--the inability to see in reduced lighting. Night blindness is caused by a lack of vitamin A in the retina, but this can progress to total and permanent blindness by its deficiency in the cornea. This is the major cause of childhood blindness in the world with over 500,000,000 children affected each year. **One can see that zinc and vitamin A work together and are both important in the diet, especially during developmental years, but masturbation remains a major factor.
Christians are not always as saintly as they should be. White says: "Hardly an hour would elapse [after church] before they would be engaged in their favorite, bewitching sin, polluting their own bodies" (2 Testimonies, 268). As you can see, excesses of what White calls "self abuse" are profound and, as scientific knowledge progresses, we will certainly learn more harmful effects in those who masturbate.
White also condemned the abuse of sexual privileges. "Women's delicate organs are worn out and become diseased", she says (Mind, Character, and Personality, Vol. 1, p 224). Repeated studies recently confirm that prostitutes and women with "over-active" sex partners have a higher rate of cervical cancer. During intercourse the cervix aligns itself within the vaginal cavity to receive the sperm where it is repeatedly thrust against. It remains swollen for several hours, and continued irritation makes it susceptible to the invasion of pathogens. This trauma ultimately results in pathological changes, cervical cancer, and other diseases. Pelvic examinations and pap smears diagnose mutational aberrations and hysterectomies are frequently necessary. White says that sexual excessiveness may result because masturbation often begins in early childhood or adolescence and prematurely strengthens sex drives to abnormally high levels in adulthood (Ibid.).
As one can readily see, God has created us with wonderful reproductive features, but anything practiced to excess has corresponding penalties. Speaking against those risks is exceedingly unpopular in an unrestrained society, yet those who are "temperate in all things" will undoubtedly be rewarded (1 Corinthians 9:25).
* David F. Horrobin, M.D., Ph.D., Zinc (St. Albans, Vt.: Vitabooks, Inc., 1981), p. 8. See also Carl C. Pfeiffer, Ph.D., M.D., Zinc and Other Micro-Nutrients (New Canaan, Conn.: Keats Publishing, Inc., 1978), p. 45.
** Whitney and Rolfes, Understanding Nutrition, Eighth Edition. 1999 (Wadsworth Publishing Company) pages 418-20; 168.