Researhers from Britain examining the relationship between increasing rates of testicular cancer and decreasing sperm quality, have concluded men who have infertility problems have an increased risk of developing cancer.
As reported in the issue of the British Medical Journal (BMJ), the study found a strong association between men with infertility problems and the subsequent risk of testicular cancer, with men in couples with fertility problems being over 1.5 times more likely to develop testicular cancer than other men.
Though there are no specific feature was linked to increased risk of testicular cancer, men with poor semen quality overall were between twice and three times as likely to develop testicular cancer.
Men with a low sperm count who had fathered children in the past had a lower risk of developing testicular cancer than men who had been unable to father children at all. Poor sperm quality was also associated with an increased risk of cancers of the abdominal cavity (peritoneum) and digestive organs.
The researchers analysed the sperm quality of semen samples taken from over 32,000 men in England between 1960 and 1989. Sperm count, motility, and shape were assessed. Cancer rates were also studied and compared with those expected for the whole population of Britain to determine levels of risk.
Researchers said the risk remained constant over time, suggesting that sperm abnormalities had been present many years before the diagnosis of cancer, they conclude there may be common risk factors for poor sperm quality and testicular cancer and suggest these factors may be present in the developing male foetus.