Being infertile may more than double a man’s risk of developing aggressive prostate cancer, according to a study in Cancer.
The study followed more than 22,500 California men who were evaluated for infertility between 1967 and 1998. Among the 4,548 men identified as infertile, 168 later developed prostate cancer. Although the number of prostate cancer cases between infertile and fertile men didn’t differ, the nature of their cancers did. Gleason scores between 8 and 10 indicate an aggressive cancer. The incidence of these aggressive tumors was 2.6 times higher in infertile men. The reason why remains unclear, but some evidence points to genetics and male hormones.
The findings suggest that doctors might want to consider a man’s fertility when making recommendations about prostate cancer screening. However, more research must be done before infertility can be considered a risk factor for the disease, as family history and race are. That’s because men who are evaluated for infertility may be more likely to seek medical care than the general population, upping their risk of a prostate cancer diagnosis.
SOURCE: Walsh TJ, Schembri M, Turek PJ, et al. Increased Risk of High-Grade Prostate Cancer Among Infertile Men. Cancer 2010;116:2140-47. PMID: 20309846.
Originally published August 2010; last reviewed February 24, 2011