Men With Fertility Issues Have An Increased Risk Of Prostate Cancer

Men who have had fertility treatment are more likely to be diagnosed with prostate cancer later in life, a new study has found.

Researchers believe there is a biological link between men needing fertility treatment and the likelihood of developing prostate cancer.

The study, which was published in the British Medical Journal, and said men needing fertility treatment had a "remarkably high risk" of developing prostate cancer.

"The main conclusion of this study, comprising virtually all men fathering a child in Sweden during two decades, is that men who achieved fatherhood through assisted reproduction had a remarkably high risk of prostate cancer," the authors said.

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Swedish researchers studied more than one million children and their fathers between 1994 and 2014 using public health data.

The men fell into three categories -- majority had conceived their children via natural methods, while more than 20,000 had fathered children through IVF and nearly 15, 000 through intra-cytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI, where the sperm is injected directly into the egg).

For each group, the number of men who developed prostate cancer was recorded.

Compared to men who did not need fertility treatment, there was a 33 percent increase for those who had used IVF of developing prostate cancer and a 54 percent increased chance in the ICSI group.

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A possible biological explanation could be found in abnormalities in the Y chromosome linked to both infertility and prostate cancer.

Low sperm count or poor sperm motility might be a possible marker of future health conditions in men, said Allan Pacey, professor of andrology at the University of Sheffield.

"As such, it has been proposed that male infertility might serve as a 'canary in the coal mine' for men's health that both men and their doctors should be better attuned to.

"It is important to be clear that this is not because the techniques of assisted reproduction go on to cause prostate cancer, but probably because the two have a common cause in some way.

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Men needing fertility treatment also tended to develop prostate cancer at an early age, and the study recommended earlier screening than present guidelines for these men.

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However the results should not deter couples from using fertility treatments, said Simon Grieveson from Prostate Cancer U.K..

"We should not leap to any conclusions around the impact of fertility treatment based on this study alone," he said.

"Couples considering fertility treatment should not be put off by these results."

In Australia, prostate cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in men, with about 17,000 men diagnosed each year. It is most common in men aged over 60.

While there is no government-sponsored screening program, it is recommended men have checks every two years after the age of 50.

With AAP.