Azoospermia And Cancer
Infertility or inability to impregnate your partner often takes a huge toll on mental and physical health in males. But can it also make them more vulnerable to life-threatening diseases? Let’s find out.
According to latest statistics reported by American Fertility Center, around 4 million men are diagnosed with permanent infertility in the United States. It was also reported that 15% of the infertile male population is aged between 15 to 40 years, which is considered as peak reproductive age in men. Infertility is a devastating condition for men and may actually pose a threat to their life by directly reducing overall life expectancy.
Details Of The Study
According to a research study conducted by Stanford University School of Medicine, the risk of developing cancer is twice as high in men who are infertile. In addition, the chances of developing cancer are even higher in men who are unable to produce sperms at all.
This study was conducted on 2238 infertile men, out of which 451 men were diagnosed with absolute absence of sperms in their ejaculate i.e. azoospermia. Medical records between year 1995 and 2009 were thoroughly reviewed and the results showed that around 29 infertile men developed cancer. In simple words, those who are suffering from azoospermia have double the risk of developing cancer as compared to non- azoospermic men. The risk is even higher in younger azoospermic men.
To sum up, investigators discovered:
- Infertile men are 1.7 times more likely to develop malignancy when compared to fertile men.
- Azoospermic men are 2.9 times more likely to develop life threatening cancers when compared to infertile males.
- Men with ages below 30 years are eight times more likely to develop cancer. Thus, younger the age, greater the risk!
It is noteworthy that azoospermia or infertility can aggravate the risk of a variety of cancer; including stomach, brain and prostate cancer. Besides these cancer, some men were also diagnosed with testicular cancer, small intestine cancer, lymphoma and melanoma.
In the past some researches have been carried out which showed link between infertile men and development of testicular cancer. But, this is the very first research study which showed a statistically significant link between azoospermia and chances of developing life threatening and serious cancers.
Azoospermia, Cancer And Infertility
Among men of reproductive age, 1% are found to be both infertile and azoospermic. Azoospermia or the inability to produce sperms can be divided into two categories; obstructive and non-obstructive. Sometimes there is a blockage in pathway which prevents sperms to be part of ejaculate, called obstructive azoospermia. The latter one occurs when testis itself does not produce sperms. It is due to genetic reasons. The non-obstructive or testicular azoospermia is usually not removable. But, pre-and post-testicular azoospermia can be treated via antibiotics and surgical procedures, as they are less severe forms. In case of obstructive azoospermia, sperms can get extracted and inseminated in women’s eggs artificially. Azoospermia can be diagnosed through laboratorial tests, transrectal ultrasounds and physical examinations.
- Eisenberg, M. L., Betts, P., Herder, D., Lamb, D. J., & Lipshultz, L. I. (2013). Increased risk of cancer among azoospermic men. Fertility and sterility, 100(3), 681-685.
- Kovac, J. R., & Lipshultz, L. I. (2016). Azoospermia and the cancer patient: are there any options?. Asian journal of andrology, 18(3), 409.
- Ramasamy, R., Bryson, C., Reifsnyder, J. E., Neri, Q., Palermo, G. D., & Schlegel, P. N. (2013). Overweight men with nonobstructive azoospermia have worse pregnancy outcomes after microdissection testicular sperm extraction. Fertility and sterility, 99(2), 372-376.