Increased Prostate Cancer Risk Associated with Assisted Reproduction in Men

Study suggests that men who use assisted reproduction techniques may benefit from early screening and long-term monitoring for prostate cancer.

A study published by The BMJ Today has revealed that men who became fathers through assisted reproduction techniques may have a higher risk for prostate cancer and early onset the disease compared with men achieving fatherhood naturally. The findings suggest that these men may benefit from early screening and long-term monitoring for prostate cancer, according to the study authors.

Although prostate cancer and many forms of infertility are related to male sex hormones and a possible link between them has been investigated, the limitations of this prior research have hindered researchers from making conclusive statements, according to the current study. Therefore, the study authors sought to compare the risk and severity of prostate cancer between men achieving fatherhood for the first time by assisted reproduction and men conceiving naturally.

The researchers analyzed data from national registers for more than 1 million children born in Sweden between 1994 and 2014 to the same number of fathers. Men were grouped according to fertility status by mode of conception: 20,618 (1.7%) by in vitro fertilization (IVF), 14,882 (1.3%) by sperm injection (ICSI), and 1,145,990 (97%) by natural conception.

Among men achieving fatherhood naturally, 3244 (0.28%) were diagnosed as having prostate cancer, compared with 77 (0.37%) in the IVF group and 63 (0.42%) in the ICSI group. The risk of early onset prostate cancer (diagnosed before 55 years of age) was also high for men fathering children through ICSI.

The study authors noted that the nature of the observational study means that they cannot establish cause. However, they concluded that men who achieved fatherhood through assisted reproduction techniques, particularly through ICSI, are at high risk for early-onset prostate cancer and thus constitute a risk group in which testing and careful long term follow-up for prostate cancer may be beneficial.

Reference

  • Al-Jebari Y, Elenkov A, Wirestrand E, et al. Risk of prostate cancer for men fathering through assisted reproduction: nationwide population based register study. BMJ, 2019; l5214 DOI: 10.1136/bmj.l5214. Published September 25, 2019.