Problems Linked to Testicular Cancer Risk
Men with fertility
problems may be at increased risk for testicular cancer, according
to results of a large study of Danish men. While previous studies
in Denmark have suggested there is a link between infertility and
testicular cancer, those studies measured a man's fertility by the
number of children he had.
The new study
looked at sperm quality and showed that men with abnormalities were
two to three times more likely than other men to develop testicular
cancer, researchers report in the September 30th issue of the British
Medical Journal. The incidence of testicular cancer has risen in
Europe and the US in recent decades, and some evidence suggests
semen quality has declined over the same time period. Dr. Rune Jacobsen
of the Danish National Research Foundation in Copenhagen and colleagues
looked at sperm count, as well as the shape and movement of sperm,
among more than 32,400 men who had semen samples taken between 1963
and 1995. Each man was part of a couple with fertility problems.
Overall, the men had a higher-than-average risk for testicular cancer.
Among men with sperm abnormalities, the cancer risk was two to three
times higher than average. Poor sperm quality and testicular cancer
may share an underlying cause, the authors suggest.
cancer strikes young men, experts have speculated that the risk
of the disease begins early in life or even in the womb. For example,
exposure to maternal hormones during pregnancy may trigger cell
malformations that later show up in men as fertility problems and
possible new risk factor for testicular cancer, it is important
for men to keep the risk in perspective, according to Jacobsen's
team. Only 89 of the more than 32,000 men developed testicular cancer,
making a man's risk for the disease "very small," the researchers
Medical Journal 2000;321:789-792