Male infertility may serve as 'canary in coal mine' over risk of prostate cancer
Men who need fertility treatment to help them father children have an increased risk of prostate cancer, research suggests.
Experts believe biological issues around infertility drive the increased chance of developing the disease, and lead to prostate cancer earlier in life.
The new study compared the risk and severity of prostate cancer between men who needed fertility treatment and those who conceived naturally.
Data from 1,181,490 children born in Sweden from 1994 to 2014, to the same number of fathers, was analysed.
From the group, 20,618 men fathered a child through IVF (1.7pc), 14,882 through intra-cytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI, 1.3pc), and 1,145,990 natural conception (97pc).
Overall, 0.37pc in the IVF group, 0.36pc in the ICSI group and 0.28pc in the natural conception group developed prostate cancer.
The results showed that men needing ICSI had a 64pc higher risk of prostate cancer, while those having IVF had a 33pc increased risk. Men needing fertility treatment also developed the cancer earlier.
They were 86pc more likely to develop prostate cancer before the age of 55 if they had undergone ICSI and 51pc more likely if they had needed IVF.
Writing in the 'British Medical Journal' (BMJ), the team led by experts at Lund University in Sweden said: "Men who achieved fatherhood through assisted reproduction had a remarkably high risk of prostate cancer."
The researchers suggested men needing fertility treatment should be screened earlier for the disease.
Allan Pacey, professor of andrology at the University of Sheffield, said: "It has been proposed that male infertility might serve as a 'canary in the coal mine' for men's health."