The male infertility-cancer link

March 30, 2010 by  
Filed under CANCER

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Talk about hitting a man when he is already down. A recent research studyreports that male infertility in younger years may be an indication for increased likelihood of having aggressive prostate cancer later in life. The study looked at 22,562 male patients checked for infertility from 1967 to 1998. The data, which were include in 15 California infertility clinics were crosslinked to data in the California Cancer Registry.  Statistical analysis of the data showed that those who had been diagnosed to have the male factor infertility have the highest risk for high-grade prostate cancer, with a 2.6 times higher likelihood compared to those without the factor.

The authors concluded:

Men with male factor infertility were found to have an increased risk of subsequently developing high-grade prostate cancer. Male infertility may be an early and identifiable risk factor for the development of clinically significant prostate cancer.

The results were published in the journal Cancer. The study was conducted by American researchers from different research institutes, led by a team at the University of California at San Francisco (UCSF).

This is not the first study to link male infertility to male-specific cancer. Previous studies have reported that infertile males have higher risk for testicular cancer than those who have normal fertility. And many experts believe there is a strong genetic factor involve.

According to study author and fertility specialist Dr. Paul Turek, who founded the Turek Clinic in San Francisco:

“Over all, this leads me to think that a common genetic defect, or a defect in an important genetic pathway, may underlie all three and possibly even more conditions in life. The infertility is just the first ’sign’ of the problem. Maybe, infertility is the ‘ultimate’ medical disease of a species and reflects larger issues down the line that are serious enough to have God or Darwin say ‘no more reproduction’ to that individual.”

The infertility-cancer link has some consequences on in vitro fertilization (IVF). Are infertile fathers going through the IVF procedure passing on the infertility and cancer factor to their offsprings? Are there any other health risks related to infertility? Would this line of research eventually lead to the popular use of preimplantation genetic screening?

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