MONDAY, Sept. 26 (HealthDay News) -- Men who do not have children appear to face a higher risk of dying from heart disease than those who become fathers, a new study suggests.
The findings also showed a slightly increased risk of cardiovascular trouble among men who had only one child. The researchers noted that the results may indicate a link between infertility and heart disease risk rather than a link between choosing not to have children and heart disease.
In the study, researchers analyzed more than a decade's worth of survey responses completed by roughly 135,000 male AARP members. The men were either married or had been married, and none had a prior history of heart disease or stroke.
Researchers tracked deaths and cause of deaths, and correlated that to the number of children the men had.
About 10 percent of the men died during the study period, including about 20 percent from heart disease.
After accounting for a wide range of factors such as race, cigarette and alcohol use, education and income status, age, exercise habits and body-mass index, researchers found that men who had no children had a 17 percent higher risk of dying from heart disease.
While the study found an association between childlessness and heart disease, it did not prove a cause and effect.
Researchers used married men as a "rough proxy" for men who had the opportunity to have children and wanted to have children, while the number of children men had was an indicator, albeit not a perfect one, for a man's fertility.
"This opens up a window into men's health," suggested study author Dr. Michael L. Eisenberg, an assistant professor in the department of urology at Stanford University in Palo Alto, Calif. "It shows that fertility may protect against later health problems. And if so it could mean that when men seek medical attention for infertility, which is often the first t
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