Male infertility may significantly increase risk of prostate cancer

April 15, 2010

Infertile men are at nearly three times greater risk for developing clinically significant prostate cancer than the average man, according to recently published research.

Infertile men are at nearly three times greater risk for developing clinically significant prostate cancer than the average man, according to recently published research.

"Known risk factors for prostate cancer include age, family history, and race. Now, these findings provide evidence that male infertility also plays a significant role in determining risk," said Paul Turek, MD, of the Turek Clinic, San Francisco, who led the study by researchers at the University of California, San Francisco.

The retrospective study, which was published online in Cancer (March 22, 2010), looked at more than 22,000 men who were evaluated for infertility from 1967 to 1998 from 15 California infertility centers and linked to the California Cancer Registry. The risk of prostate cancer was compared with the incidence in the general population, matched by age and geography.

The analysis identified 168 post-infertility prostate cancers. Men with male factor infertility were 2.6 times more likely to be diagnosed with high-grade prostate cancer.

The study also identified abnormal semen parameters 10 years before cancers were diagnosed, suggesting that early prostate cancer screening is warranted in men with male infertility.

"This study confirms our earlier published work with testis cancer and suggests that male infertility may be an early marker for later disease in men," Dr. Turek said.