FELLAS who struggle with infertility are at much greater risk of prostate cancer, research reveals.
It shows men who shoot blanks were up to 64 per cent more likely to be diagnosed with the disease.
Experts warn poor fertility may serve as a “canary in the coal mine” for male health problems.
They think both infertility and prostate cancer could be affected by key sex hormones.
Another theory is abnormalities on the male Y chromosome may play a part in both conditions.
The Swedish study, published in the BMJ, analysed nearly 1.2 million births over two decades.
Researchers found men using a fertility treatment called ICSI – where a single sperm is injected straight into an egg – to father a child were 64 per cent more likely to develop prostate cancer than blokes who conceived naturally.
And their chance of getting it before the age of 55 was 86 per cent higher.
Blokes who turned to conventional IVF to start a family were at 33 per cent greater risk of the disease, and 51 per cent more likely to get it young.
Experts claim the findings suggest infertile men may benefit from early screening and long-term monitoring for prostate cancer.
Lead researcher Yahia Al-Jebari, from Lund University, said: “Men who achieved fatherhood through assisted reproduction techniques, particularly through ICSI, are at high risk for early onset prostate cancer and thus constitute a risk group in which testing and careful long term follow-up for prostate cancer may be beneficial.” The study followed participants for around a decade.
One in ten men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer – while one in 12 are affected by infertility.
Fertility expert Allan Pacey, Professor of Andrology at Sheffield University, said: “This study is excellent, and adds further evidence to the “canary in the coal mine” theory by showing that Swedish men who became fathers using techniques of assisted reproduction – such as ICSI – are at increased risk of prostate cancer later in life.
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“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.
“Perhaps all men who are diagnosed with a fertility problem in their 20’s and 30’s should be given a leaflet explaining what this might mean for them in their 50’s and 60’s so that they can be aware of possible future problems and be encouraged to visit their GP a bit quicker than they often do.”
Prostate cancer affects around 47,000 men a year in the UK – and kills 11,000.
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