Male Infertility and Elevated Cancer Risks in Families

Male Infertility and Elevated Cancer Risks in Families

Researchers at Huntsman Cancer Institute and the University of Utah found a surprising connection between men who produce very little to no sperm and cancer risk patterns in their families. This discovery could lead to a more tailored approach to cancer screening and heightened prevention and early detection.

Infertility and Overall Health

Male infertility affects 10% to 15% of men, but it doesn’t stop there. It’s widely recognized that male fertility is connected to overall health. Poor semen quality and subfertility are linked with several health issues, including increased risk of hospitalization and death from chronic conditions, decreased lifespan, and increased risk of cardiovascular disease, metabolic syndrome, and autoimmune conditions.

Even before this study was carried out, it was already known that subfertile men and their relatives have an increased risk of certain cancers, including testicular, thyroid, and pediatric. This study went further, revealing diverse cancer risks for those with azoospermia and those with severe oligozoospermia and their families.

The Study

The study, “Describing patterns of familial cancer risk in subfertile men using population pedigree data”, was led by Dr. Joemy M. Ramsay, a specialist in occupational and environmental health risks. The research lays the groundwork for understanding how shared genetics, environment, and lifestyle choices might influence cancer risk within families.

Using the extensive Utah Population Database, Dr. Ramsay and her team looked at parents, siblings, children, and even extended families of men diagnosed with infertility.

Compared to families without fertility issues, families with azoospermia showed higher chances of developing certain cancers. These include bone and joint cancers, soft tissue cancers, uterine cancers, Hodgkin lymphomas, and thyroid cancer. Families with severe oligozoospermia also had increased risks of certain cancers like colon cancer, bone and joint cancers, and testis cancer, but a lower risk of esophageal cancer.

By analyzing multiple cancer types simultaneously, the researchers were able to identify 13 distinct risk patterns through an algorithm that clusters similar things together. These patterns highlighted families with a propensity for developing specific combinations of cancers, rather than focusing on individual cancer types.

As Dr. Ramsay explains, “This method helps create similar family groups, making it easier to uncover the reason behind a family being at high risk for certain diseases over others”.

Personalized Care

While the link between infertility and cancer risks is still not fully understood, for families with male infertility, these findings emphasize the importance of open communication with family and healthcare providers.

This research solidifies the importance of further studies on the connection between infertility and cancer risk. Ultimately, understanding the underlying reasons could lead to more personalized treatment plans, improved screening, and more effective prevention measures.

Stay up to date with the latest in fertility research and technology. Explore the latest sperm testing solutions available for fertility clinics, sperm banks and laboratories here

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