Male infertility: Families of males with low sperm counts have a higher risk of cancer

In a recent study employing genetic sequencing, researchers have outlined the risk patterns of malignancies in families of males generating less or no sperm.

They discovered that the chance of having malignancies of the bone and joint rose by 156% in families where there was no sperm production, and the risk of developing cancers of the thyroid, lymph, and soft tissue increased by 54%, 56%, and 60%, respectively.

In addition, the researchers—led by those at the University of Utah in the US—found that families whose male members were severely oligozoospermic, or had fewer sperm than 1.5 million per milliliter of semen—were 134% more likely to develop testicular cancer and 43% more likely to develop bone and joint cancer.

“Several distinct patterns of cancer risk were seen in the families of males with low fecundity, according to our research. Shared cancer risk patterns among family members indicate a potential genetic, environmental, or health-related phenotype. Lead author of the research published in the journal Human Reproduction and associate professor at the University of Utah Joemy Ramsay said, “Genetic and environmental exposures can also act together to increase cancer risk.”

According to the researchers, the results may enhance their comprehension of the basic processes behind infertility and cancer.

According to the experts, this would enhance the quality of counseling that could be provided to subfertile men and their families and allow doctors to estimate cancer risk for them more precisely.

In order to conduct the study, the researchers used data from semen analyses of 786 men who visited reproductive clinics in Utah, United States, between 1996 and 2017. These guys were matched to data from 5674 generally available fertile males (having at least one kid).

Additionally, the researchers collected health information on the men’s families and cancer diagnoses using the Utah Population Database and Utah Cancer Registry, respectively.

Using a data analysis approach called cluster analysis, the researchers evaluated each family’s risk for numerous cancer kinds at the same time. This allowed them to find groupings of families that had similar patterns of risk for many cancers.

The findings have been contradictory, the researchers noted, with the chances of different cancer types varying significantly within family groupings and with the kind of infertility. Previous study has linked male infertility to an elevated risk of cancer in individuals and their relatives.

“This is the first study to describe these multicancer patterns in families of subfertile men,” Ramsay said.

The absence of data on the men’s other medical issues, their lifestyle risk factors (smoking and BMI), and their exposure to environmental risk factors among the subfertile males were among the study’s shortcomings, the researchers recognized.

Additionally, they pointed out that because the guys in the study were patients of a fertility clinic, it’s possible that they were a subgroup of all the males in the community who are infertile.

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