Men who have children through fertility treatments are more at risk for prostate cancer, research suggests.
Scientists have analyzed more than one million men who conceived children between 1994 and 2014 in Sweden.
They discovered that those who had children through IVF or other fertility treatments were up to 64 percent more likely to develop the disease.
The exact relationship between prostate cancer and infertility is unclear. But the scientists said that genetic & # 39; abnormalities & # 39; blame on the Y chromosome.
DNA deletions on this chromosome are known to cause male infertility, while genes on the same chromosome are linked to prostate cancer.
Men who became fathers through fertility treatments are more at risk of prostate cancer (stock)
The study, published in the British Medical Journal, was conducted by Lund University in Sweden and Medical University Sofia in Bulgaria.
& # 39; Men who have achieved paternity through artificial reproductive techniques … run a high risk of early prostate cancer & # 39 ;, the scientists wrote.
& # 39; (They) therefore constitute a risk group in which testing and careful long-term follow-up can be beneficial for prostate cancer. & # 39;
Prostate cancer and male infertility are common, affecting 10 percent and eight percent respectively of men in & # 39; western societies & # 39 ;, the scientists wrote.
Some studies have associated poor sperm quality with an increased risk of prostate cancer.
However, others suggest that men are less likely to develop the disease if they do not have children.
To learn more, the researchers analyzed 1.18 million fathers who had children for the first time between 1994 and 2014 in Sweden.
Fertility treatment reporting is mandatory in Sweden, with & # 39; coverage of nearly 100 percent & # 39 ;, wrote the scientists. These data were linked to cancer and death registers.
The men were followed from the conception of their child to a diagnosis of prostate cancer, death or the end of the study on December 31, 2014.
Of the men who naturally had children, 3,244 (0.28 percent) developed prostate cancer.
This is compared to the 77 (0.37 percent) and 63 (0.42 percent) who became father via IVF and intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI), respectively.
WHAT IS PROSTATE CANCER?
How many people does it kill?
Prostate cancer became a greater killer than breast cancer for the first time, official statistics revealed last year.
More than 11,800 men a year – or one every 45 minutes – are now killed by the disease in Britain, compared to around 11,400 women who die of breast cancer.
It means that prostate cancer is behind lung and intestinal tracts in terms of the number of people it kills in Britain. In the US, the disease kills 26,000 each year.
Nevertheless, it receives less than half of the research funding for breast cancer – while treatments for the disease are at least ten years behind.
How fast is it developing?
Prostate cancer usually develops slowly, so there can be no signs that someone has it for years, according to the NHS.
If the cancer is at an early stage and causes no symptoms, a policy of & # 39; can wait alert & # 39; or & # 39; active surveillance & # 39; are accepted.
Some patients can be cured if the disease is treated at an early stage.
But if it is diagnosed at a later stage, when it has spread, it becomes terminal and the treatment revolves around relieving symptoms.
Thousands of men are delayed to make a diagnosis because of the known side effects of the treatment, including erectile dysfunction.
Testing and treatment
Tests for prostate cancer are haphazard, with accurate tools that are just starting to show up.
There is no national prostate screening program because the tests have been too inaccurate for years.
Doctors have difficulty distinguishing between aggressive and less severe tumors, making it difficult to choose a treatment.
Men over 50 are eligible for a "PSA" blood test that gives doctors a rough idea of whether a patient is at risk.
But it is unreliable. Patients who receive a positive result usually receive a biopsy that is also not watertight.
Scientists are not sure what causes prostate cancer, but age, obesity, and lack of exercise are known risks.
Anyone with concerns can contact the Prostate Cancer UK specialist nurses on 0800 074 8383 or come to visit prostatecanceruk.org
ICSI means that doctors inject a sperm into an egg.
This is different from IVF, which mixes sperm with eggs and allows them to fertilize.
In Sweden, ICSI is mainly used in men with & # 39; significantly reduced sperm quality & # 39 ;, the scientists wrote. Its use therefore suggests severe infertility.
The results showed that men who became fathers through ICSI were 64 percent more likely to develop prostate cancer, while those who had children were 33 percent more likely to get IVF.
The men who had children through assisted reproduction were also 86 percent more likely to develop the disease before age 55, defined as early onset.
Professor Allan Pacey, of the University of Sheffield, said: & # 39; There have been a number of studies in recent years suggesting that a diagnosis of male infertility may be a possible marker for future health problems in men.
& # 39; It has been proposed as such that male infertility can serve as a & # 39; canary in the coal mine & # 39; for men's health.
& # 39; This study is excellent and adds further evidence to the & # 39; canary in the coal mine & # 39; theory by showing that Swedish men who became fathers using assisted reproduction techniques run a higher risk of prostate cancer in later life.
& # 39; It is important to be clear that this is not because the techniques of artificial reproduction continue to cause prostate cancer, but probably because the two have a common cause in some way.
& # 39; Perhaps all men who are found to have a fertility problem in their 20 & # 39; s and 30 & # 39; s should receive a leaflet explaining what this can mean for them in their 50 & # 39; s and 60 & # 39 ; s & # 39 ;.
The researchers state that screening should be considered in this group of men who appear to have a higher risk of the disease.
However, experts claim that this & # 39; hard to justify & # 39; would be.
A team from Hammersmith Hospital wrote in a linked editorial: & # 39; In the absence of a plausible mechanism of action or evidence of causal link, justifying prostate cancer screening is difficult for all infertile men.
"However, further research into the potential future complications of male infertility would be welcome in patients and will help clinicians to advise all infertile men about their future health."
There is no screening program for prostate cancer in the UK or the US.
A blood test has been proposed that is looking for a protein that & # 39; prostate specific antigen & # 39; (PSA).
However, healthy cells also produce PSA, which leads to small amounts in the bloodstream, even in men without cancer.
PSA levels may increase as the prostate becomes larger, which may be an indication of a problem. However, cancer does not necessarily have to be the fault. Levels also rise with age.
In addition, up to 15 percent of men with prostate cancer have normal PSA values, which means that cases can be missed according to the NHS.
The PSA test can also detect cancer that grows slowly and causes no symptoms or shortens life.
For many patients with prostate cancer, treatment is not necessary, and doctors recommend & # 39; watch carefully & # 39; On.
A positive PSA test can cause anxiety in the patient, so that they are treated. In many cases, the side effects outweigh the benefits, some of which are left incontinent and impotent.
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