Male infertility can also be related to other health problems. A recent study published in the journal Breast Cancer Research shows a strong link between breast cancer & male infertility. The study highlights that although breast cancer is less common in males, the risk of breast cancer in infertile men is twice as high as in males without fertility problems.
For over 12 years, a team of researchers from the London Institute of Cancer Research conducted one of the largest studies of male breast cancer patients in England & Wales. During their study, the researchers surveyed about 1,998 breast cancer patients and compared their fertility data to that of more than 1,500 male subjects who did not suffer from disease.
The study results revealed several important details:
Breast cancer in men is not a myth but a mystery
An important point to remember is that breast cancer cases are more common in women and out of 100 breast cancer patients in the US, 99 are women. Breast cancer in women has been found to be related to genetic & reproductive factors. The mutations that cause disease in a woman’s body can result from inherited genes, aging, exposure to radiation, alcohol consumption, and hormonal imbalances.
In men, however, the disease is rare and often viewed as a mystery because scientists are not yet sure what triggers the genes linked to breast cancer in men. One of the authors of the study, Dr. Michael Jones, highlighted a common misconception about the disease, saying: “Breast cancer is often thought of as something that only affects women, but men can also diagnose with disease.
Around 80 men lose their lives to breast cancer each year in the UK. While more than 500 male breast cancer patients died in the US in 2017, more than 2,700 new cases of male breast cancer were reported in the US this year, according to an estimate by the American Cancer Society.
Infertility issues in males are directly related to breast cancer
Although the cause of breast cancer in men is unknown, Dr. Jones and colleagues found in their study that the risk of breast cancer is higher in men with Klinefelter syndrome. This genetic condition negatively affects testicular growth & sperm production in men. Another finding that surprised the researchers was that possibility of breast cancer decreased in men with increased number of boys.
More childless men were diagnosed with cancer during the study. This analysis included married & unmarried subjects, and each subject’s medical history regarding fertility was reviewed. Finally, when the researchers compared fertility-related data from breast cancer patients to 1,597 ordinary men, they concluded that “male infertility is associated with an increased risk of breast cancer in men.
Interestingly, breast cancer is not the only disease associated with male infertility. Some previous studies have shown that men with fertility problems are more likely to have diabetes, heart disease & renal disorders.
Dr. Jones believes his findings linking infertility to breast cancer in men are critical. With more research, they may reveal more information about the underlying cause of breast cancer in both men & women. The author said: “Our study suggests that infertile men are twice as likely to develop breast cancer as men without fertility problems. The reasons for this association are unclear and there is a need to investigate the critical role of male fertility hormone risk of breast cancer in men. We hope this can lead to an understanding of the underlying causes of male and possibly even female breast cancer.