MASSA TO ‘ENTER THE FINAL PHASE’ OF HIS LIFE…. Rep. Eric Massa (D-N.Y.) announced today that he’s retiring from Congress this year, citing a recurrence of cancer.

In a conference call with reporters, Massa said he was hospitalized in December with a recurrence of cancer, and that doctors have told him he would no longer be able to function at full speed all the time.

“I run at about a hundred miles an hour. And my doctors have made it clear to me that I can no longer do that,” Massa said.

“I do not have the life’s energy to fight all the battles all the time,” he said. “I will now enter the final phase of my life at a more controlled pace.” Massa, who is in his first term, did not take questions from reporters on the conference call.

Politico reported that Massa’s retirement is the result of an ethics investigation, stemming from alleged sexual harassment charges filed by a former male staffer. The congressman conceded he’s “a salty guy” who has “used salty language” with staff, but angrily denied the allegations. Referring to the Politico piece, Massa said “those kinds of articles — unsubstantiated without fact or backing — are a symptom of what’s wrong with this city.”

There were also some reports earlier that Massa would announce his resignation from Congress, but he did not comment on leaving the Hill before the end of his term.

According to Chris Cillizza’s count, Massa is the 15th House Democrat to announce his retirement this year, as compared to 19 House Republicans. The NRCC was already targeting Massa for defeat in his historically “red” district, and Republican officials are confident that Dems will not be able to keep the seat in November.

As this relates to the ongoing debate over health care reform, Massa opposed the Democratic legislation in November. Whether his retirement might free Massa to vote for reform now is not yet clear.*

* Update: This is an important clarification: Massa has been criticial of the Democratic reform proposal from the left, not the right. He support single-payer, so he doesnt need to be “freed” from local pressure.

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Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.