Men who can’t produce sperm face increased cancer risk
Men who are diagnosed as azoospermic — infertile because of an absence of sperm in their ejaculate — are more prone to developing cancer than the general population, urologists have found. And a diagnosis of azoospermia before age 30 carries an eight-fold cancer risk, the study says.
June 20, 2013 — Men who are diagnosed as azoospermic — infertile because of an absence of sperm in their ejaculate — are more prone to developing cancer than the general population, a study led by a Stanford University School of Medicine urologist has found. And a diagnosis of azoospermia before age 30 carries an eight-fold cancer risk, the study says.”An azoospermic man’s risk for developing cancer is similar to that for a typical man 10 years older,” said Michael Eisenberg, MD, PhD, assistant professor of urology at the medical school and director of male reproductive medicine and surgery at Stanford Hospital & Clinics. Eisenberg is lead author of the study, published online June 20 in Fertility and Sterility.Diagnoses of male infertility and azoospermia are surprisingly common in the United States. About 4 million American men — 15 percent of those ages 15-45 — are infertile. Of these, some 600,000 — about 1 percent of those of reproductive age — are azoospermic. “There is evidence that infertility may be a barometer for men’s overall health,” Eisenberg said, “and a few studies have found an association of male infertility with testicular cancer.” The new study, he said, not only assigns the bulk of infertile men’s increased cancer risk to those with azoospermia, but also suggests that this risk extends beyond testicular cancer.Eisenberg conducted most of the analysis for the study at Stanford, using data gathered from the Texas Cancer Registry and the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, where he completed his medical training. The study’s senior authors are Larry Lipshultz, MD, and Dolores Lamb, PhD, professors of urology at Baylor.The study population consisted of 2,238 infertile men who were seen at a Baylor andrology clinic from 1989 to 2009. Their median age was 35.7 when they were first evaluated for the cause of their infertility. Of those men, 451 had azoospermia, and 1,787 did not. There were otherwise no apparent initial differences between the two groups.Azoospermia can arise for two reasons. …
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