Save 20% on your next Cambridge Bioethics and Law online purchase
Page URL:

Male infertility linked to testicular cancer

2 March 2009
Appeared in BioNews 497

In a study published this week in the Archives of Internal Medicine a link has been made between male infertility and testicular germ cell cancer.

The research, lead by Dr Thomas Walsh at the University of California San Francisco, studied data collected from 22,562 male partners of couples seeing fertility treatment in Californian fertility clinics from 1967 to 1998. From this sample, 4,549 of the men were diagnosed with male factor infertility based on a clinical presentation of abnormal semen. These men were linked to the California Cancer Registry and were studied between 1998 and 2004 for any signs to testicular cancer.

By comparing the results of those men with male factor infertility with the rest of the population it was found that men who had the condition were 2.8 times more likely to develop testicular germ cell cancer; 34 of the men seeking infertility treatment were diagnosed with testicular cancer less than a year after seeking infertility treatment.

Although the link has been made between those seeking infertility treatment and the development of testicular cancer, Dr Walsh, now at the University of Washington, and his fellow researches doubted that the link was caused by the infertility treatment itself. It has been hypothesised that certain forms of male infertility are connected with faulty DNA repair, which is also associated with the development of tumours.

Another postulated explanation is that environmental factors could underlie both infertility and testicular cancer. In relation to this possibility it was noted that there has been a continual increase in the incidence of testicular cancer in the last 30 to 50 years. The report observed that 'during the same period there is evidence of a decline in semen quality and fertility in industrialised nations... it is unclear whether the two trends are interdependent or related to one another.'

The report concluded by asserting that more research needed to be done that 'focuses on the etiology of poor germ cell health in these populations.'

Infertile men risk testicular cancer: study
AFP |  26 February 2009
Infertility 'almost triples' testicular caner risk
Healthcare Republic |  26 February 2009
Male infertility linked to testicular cancer
Medpage Today |  23 February 2009
Study finds infertility link to testicular cancer
Reuters |  23 February 2009
14 September 2015 - by Meetal Solanki 
Gene mutations may account for as much of half the risk of developing testicular cancer, a study has suggested...
14 October 2013 - by Dr Linda Wijlaars 
A specific gene variant more common in caucasian men that protects skin cells from UV damage has been associated with an increased risk of testicular cancer, a study has found...
13 June 2011 - by Kyrillos Georgiadis 
A new fertility test for men which can detect DNA damage in sperm has been developed in the UK. The test, called SpermComet, could save couples undergoing fertility treatment both time and money, since it will allow clinics to fast-track patients to the most appropriate treatment, say its developers...
Log in to add a Comment.

By posting a comment you agree to abide by the BioNews terms and conditions

Syndicate this story - click here to enquire about using this story.