March 22, 2010 -- Men with infertility issues may be more likely to develop
more aggressive forms of prostate cancer than fertile men, according to a new
Researchers have found that infertile men who did develop prostate cancer
were more than two-and-a-half times more likely to develop high-grade or
aggressive prostate cancers, which are more likely to grow and spread quickly,
than fertile men.
"These results, if confirmed, also suggest that men identified with male
factor infertility earlier in life may be considered for prostate cancer
screening, given the elevated risk specifically for high-grade disease," write
researcher Thomas J. Walsh, MD, of the University of Washington School of
Medicine in Seattle, and colleagues in Cancer.
Prostate cancer is the most commonly diagnosed type of cancer in men in the
Researchers say previous studies on a possible link between male infertility
and prostate cancer risk have produced conflicting results, with some showing
men who have children have a lower risk of developing the disease and some
showing no increased risk. But researchers say the number of children a man has
may not accurately reflect his own fertility.
Therefore, in this study, researchers looked at the risk of prostate cancer
in a group of 22,262 men who were evaluated for infertility from 1967 to 1998
in 15 California infertility centers. The rates of prostate cancer in men who
were found to have male factor infertility were compared to those men who were
not found to have infertility.
During the study period, 168 cases of prostate cancer were diagnosed among
the men who were evaluated for infertility, which researchers say is not
significantly different than the expected rate of prostate cancer (185
But men who were evaluated for infertility and found to be infertile were
2.6 times more likely to be diagnosed with aggressive prostate cancer than men
who were evaluated and found not to be infertile.
Researchers say if these results are confirmed by further studies, they
could offer new insight on the biological pathways underlying male infertility
and prostate cancer.