Misconception

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MALE INFERTILITY LINKED TO PROSTATE CANCER

Posted by avnerhershlag on April 4, 2010

In a study by Walsh et al (Cancer, 2010), 22,562 men who were evaluated for infertility from 1967 to 1998 were indentified from 15 California infertility centers and linked to the California Cancer Registry.

A total of 168 cases of prostate cancer that developed after infertility were identified.

Men evaluated for infertility but not necessarily with male factors were not found to have an increased risk of cancer compared with the general population

Male infertility increased the chances aggressive prostate cancer by 2.6 times. The risk of slow-growing prostate cancer was increased by 1.6 times.

COMMENTARY:

  • A message to men experiencing infertility: don’t panic!  Likelihood is that you will be healthy and never develop prostate cancer!  Why?
  • Because only 1.2 percent of infertile men developed prostate cancer in this study, compared to 0.4 of fertile men.
  • This means that your chance of NOT developing prostate cancer, even if you have a fertility problem and abnormal sperm, is 98.8%!
  • Also, what the media forgot to mention, is that men who were evaluated for infertility had normal sperm DID NOT have an increased chance to develop prostate cancer.
  • And yes, it is true that previous research by the same authors reported a 2.8-fold increase chance to develop testicular cancer,

But they had only 34 cases in over 22,000 men studied.

  • Both observations are interesting, demanding close attention and hopefully studies that will shed light on this association.
  • We are still in the dark regarding the genetics of male infertility.  There are also ongoing studies on the genetics of both prostate and testicular cancer.
  • Hopefully, in the not to far future, the genes responsible will be discovered.  It may be that they are, in some cases, evil neighbors on the same chromosome.
  • If we know the genes, we can check if patients carry them, and aim to eliminate them in your children (through IVF and genetic diagnosis of your embryos — PGD).
  • One of the researchers mentioned God and Darwin in this context… as if male infertility was a signal to stop certain men from reproducing.  I’d rather stay away from sacrilegious statements.  As far as Darwin goes — I’m sure that he’s modify his evolution theories had he lived today and saw all the wonderful new human being that we bring to life, bypassing infertility obstacles.
  • EVERY MAN WITH INFERTILITY SHOULD HAVE A CHANCE TO BECOME A FATHER!  It is the basic right of every human being.
  • So here is the message to you: a man with infertility, who’s lost sleep since this report came out:  Take charge of your health.  This is what you should do:
  • 1. If you and your wife have fertility problems, and you have normal sperm, you DO NOT have an increased chance to develop prostate and testicular cancer and you DO NOT have to see a male fertility specialist.
  • 2. If you have abnormal sperm test (semen analysis), SEE A UROLOGIST WHO SPECIALIZES IN MALE INFERTILITY.  He or she will examine you and in most cases will reassure you that you are healthy and that you can proceed with fertility treatment.
  • 3. Like all men, you should have regular, annual exams, including a prostate check.
  • And most importantly, we are now very successful in helping infertile men have a baby.
  • So the bottom-line: even if you have abnormal sperm, likelihood is the YOU WILL BE CANCER FREE AND THAT YOU WILL BECOME A FATHER!
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