A new national register study from Lunds University was published in British Medical Journal on 26 September. The study was led by Ph.D. Yahia Al-Jebari and Professor Yvonne Lundberg-Giwercman.
The research looked at 1.2 million pregnancies in Sweden over 20 years. “Men seeking help from the healthcare system for infertility and assisted fertilization turned out to have a higher risk of developing prostate cancer, compared to those who fathered children naturally”, said Yvonne Lundberg Givercman, Professor in experimental pathology.
Infertility and prostate cancer affect one in ten men. In the study the scientists wanted to assess the risk of developing prostate cancer by looking at three groups: those conceiving through vitro fertilisation (IVF) and intra-cytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) and those conceiving naturally. “When we compared these three patient groups, we could see that fathers treated by IVF and ICSI had 30, respectively 60 percent increased risk of developing prostate cancer, compared to fathers who had children naturally. From the men who developed prostate cancer, 76 had been treated with IVF, 54 with ICSI and 3 216 had conceived naturally”, says Yahia Al-Jebari.
How male infertility could be linked biologically to the risk of prostate cancer is not yet clear. Possibilities include a genetic association between microdeletions in the Y chromosome, which are known to cause severe male infertility, and genes on the same chromosome known to be associated with prostate cancer. Mutations in DNA repair genes and epigenetic and environmental modulators have also been suggested to link male infertility and prostate cancer.