There are so many things in life that can be
fulfilling and can add years to one's life. It includes family, good friends,
having a pet, being socially or academically active among many others. Fathering
and helping to raise a child can add to one's life's joy and it can even help
to keep diseases, such as those of the heart, at bay.
Recent research suggests that fathers are less
likely to die of heart-related problems when compared with those who have not
fathered a child. The study was conducted by the AARP (formerly the American
Association of Retired Persons), in liaison with the US government and several
, Stanford University urologist and fertility specialist who was
at the helm of the study says "There is emerging evidence that male
infertility is a window into a man's later health. Maybe it's telling us that
something else is involved in their inability to have kids."
The study involved 138,000 men and is the largest ever study
that has been
conducted on male fertility and mortality. It included only married men
who, possibly, had more
intent in fathering a child. The findings of this research have been published
online in the journal Human Reproduction.
Despite the fact that the study could not detect
a link between fatherhood and mortality it is easy to concede that fathering a
child also involves good genes, including that of a healthy heart. Another
recent study conducted on 600 men, by a group of researchers in the
Philippines, found that the levels of the male hormone testosterone dropped
drastically after a man becomes a dad. If that was the case, infertility in men
(which indicated low
testosterone levels to begin with) possibly reflected deeper health issues
. It must be noted that low testosterone levels
are associated with lower levels of HDL or the "good cholesterol," and
this can increase the risks of heart disease.
The present study found no difference in the death rate
between fathers and the childless but
were able to deduce that the former were 17 percent less likely to die of
cardiovascular causes than the latter.
The present research certainly had its share of
lacunae. Factors such as stress and other cardiovascular risk factors were not
taken into account. Researchers did not bother to find out if the childlessness
was by choice, neither did they care to find out about the spouses'
contribution towards infertility.
Based on this study, it is highly unlikely that
a cardiologist would recommend "fathering a child" as a measure to tackle heart
diseases! The study can at best be described as a wild shot in the dark, which
probably lends support to a widely acknowledged fact.