According to a new study, the incidence of invasive breast cancer in males may be linked to the male partner’s self-reported infertility.
The study’s findings were published in the open-access journal ‘Breast Cancer Research.’ Male breast cancer is less prevalent than female breast cancer, and its relationship to infertility has only been studied in limited studies to date. Only one tiny piece of research has found a link between men fathering children and breast cancer.
The authors examined 1,998 males diagnosed with breast cancer in England and Wales, with 112 (5.6%) also self-reporting infertility and 383 (19.2%) having no children.
The Institute of Cancer Research (London, UK) researchers explored the possible link between self-reported infertility or having no children and the risk of breast cancer in men. Michael Jones and colleagues questioned 1,998 males (under 80 years old) diagnosed with breast cancer in England and Wales between 2005 and 2017. They were compared to 1,597 guys who were not blood relatives as a control group. In the control group, 80 guys (5%) reported infertility.
Based on 47 people with breast cancer (2.6%) compared to 22 controls without cancer but with self-reported infertility, the likelihood of invasive breast cancer tumours (cancerous cells that spread beyond where they initially developed) was substantially related to male infertility.
The scientists found no significant connection between the risk of breast cancer and infertility in a spouse or when the source of infertility was unknown.
Further analysis revealed that a higher proportion of men with breast cancer (383 males) reported not having any children when compared to controls (174 males). The scientists warn, however, that not having children may not completely represent male infertility because men may choose not to have children for a variety of cultural and sociological reasons.
Based on 160 people with in situ breast cancer tumours (cancerous cells that do not spread beyond where they initially developed) compared to 1,597 controls, the risk of breast cancer related to infertility or no children was not significant.
“Our data suggests that there may be a relationship between male infertility and invasive breast cancer in males,” stated co-author Michael Jones.
In case of potential confounding, the authors performed further sensitivity analyses to account for alcohol intake, smoking, family history of breast cancer, and liver illness, but found no clear indication that these factors were influencing the findings.
The authors did not adjust for obesity, but they did eliminate data from 11 guys with Klinefelter syndrome, nine with past malignancy, 29 boys who were significantly obese, and 169 who were not. Three females were not included in any of the studies.
Because fertility is a complicated process that can incorporate components from both the male and female members of a partnership, the authors warn that self-reported fertility has the potential for misclassification. Men may not disclose children outside of marriage or those they are ignorant of, or they may have chosen to stay childless. The authors argue that, while verifying infertility using medical records is impracticable in this study, it may lessen memory bias in future studies.
“The causes of breast cancer in males are largely unclear, partly because it is rare and partly because prior studies have been tiny,” Michael Jones stated.
The data given in this study implies that the link between infertility and breast cancer should be validated with more research, and future studies into potential underlying variables, such as hormone imbalances, are required.”