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Infertile men have an increased risk of developing aggressive, high-grade prostate cancer compared with fertile men, according to the results of a study published in Cancer.[1]

The prostate is a male sex gland responsible for producing fluid that forms semen. It is located below the bladder, in front of the rectum, and surrounds the urethra. Prostate cancer occurs when the cells in the prostate gland grow out of control. Prostate cancer is the most common type of cancer diagnosed in men in the U.S.

Previous studies have shown a possible link between infertility and prostate cancer; however, none of these studies have produced definitive results. In this study, researchers in California evaluated data from 22,262 men who were evaluated for infertility between 1967 and 1988 in 15 California infertility centers. They linked these men to the California Cancer Registry and then compared them to an age- and geography-matched sample of men from the general population.

A total of 168 cases of prostate cancer were diagnosed among the infertile men. The rate of prostate cancer among infertile men was not significantly different from the rate among fertile men; however, infertile men were found to be 2.6 times more likely to be diagnosed with high-grade prostate cancer, a more aggressive form of the disease that is more likely to grow and spread quickly.

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The researchers concluded that infertile men may be at higher risk for high-grade prostate cancer. If these results are confirmed in future studies, men diagnosed with infertility may be candidates for more regular prostate cancer screening.


[1] Walsh TJ, Schembri M, Turek PJ, et al. Increased risk of high-grade prostate cancer among infertile men. Cancer [early online publication]. March 22, 2010.