Cancer Treatment Centers of America

New study shows a link between low sperm production and cancer

blog infertility and cancer

A study conducted by the Stanford School of Medicine found that men who are diagnosed as azoospermic, infertile due to lack of sperm in ejaculate, are more prone to developing cancer than men without this condition. A man diagnosed as azoospermic before he turns 30 has eight times the risk of cancer as a man without the condition.

“An azoospermic man’s risk for developing cancer is similar to that for a typical man 10 years older,” said Michael Eisenberg, MD, PhD, assistant professor of urology at Stanford and director of male reproductive medicine and surgery at Stanford Hospital & Clinics. Eisenberg is lead author of the study, published online June 20 in Fertility and Sterility.

Of the 2,238 infertile men tested for the study, 451 had azoospermia. After the initial sperm analysis, the men were followed for 6.7 years to see which of them developed cancer. After 5.8 years, 29 of the men tested for the study developed cancer. Compared to the general male population, the group of infertile men were 1.7 times more likely to develop cancer. A deeper look at the results showed that of the infertile test group, the azoospermic men were three times as likely to be diagnosed with cancer.

The men were diagnosed with various cancer types, including brain, prostate, stomach and testicular cancer. These findings may show that azoospermia and cancer risk share common genetic causes.

“There is evidence that infertility may be a barometer for men’s overall health,” said Eisenberg.