According to a news release reported by WebMD this week, a newly released study of over 20,000 men has revealed a potential link between reduced fertility and increased risk of developing testicular cancer. The researchers behind the study caution that no causal relationship has been established between so-called subfertility and cancer of any type and, in fact, these results run counter to previous studies that have indicated an increased cancer risk for men with no sperm in their semen. Dr. Robert Oates, formerly of the Society for Male Reproduction and Urology, in the release:
“This study provides new insights that will help us deliver better patient care and provides a strong foundation for the research needed to identify, and ultimately address, underlying physiologic problems that may lead to infertility or cancer,”
Between 1996 and 2011, thousands of men seeking fertility treatment had their semen analyzed and compared to men with no fertility issues. Over 400 cases of cancer were discovered in these patients, the most common types predictably being melanoma skin cancer, prostate cancer and testicular cancer. But as the National Cancer Institute points out, there are numerous, diverse causes and risk factors associated with testicular cancer, some of which could very likely be incidental to fertility issues. From the NCI website:
Anything that increases the chance of getting a disease is called a risk factor. Having a risk factor does not mean that you will get cancer; not having risk factors doesn’t mean that you will not get cancer. Talk with your doctor if you think you may be at risk. Risk factors for testicular cancer include:
It may take time for the information gleaned from this study and others like to trickle down into useful treatment opportunities at the patient level, but as always, frequent self-examination is an easy and important way for men to keep healthy.Get your balls in the game! Donate to the Sean Kimerling Foundation to win the battle against testicular cancer.