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Fatherhood Tied to Higher Prostate Cancer Risk
Date:1/7/2008

Findings from large study show a trend, but reasons aren't clear

MONDAY, Jan. 7 (HealthDay News) -- Men who father children may be at higher risk of prostate cancer compared to those who forego the life experience, a Danish study suggests.

The large-scale study looked at all men born in Denmark between 1935 and 1988. It found that childless men had a 17 percent lower incidence of prostate cancer than fathers did.

The reasons why remain unclear.

"It is not possible from the current data to point out what factors associated with childlessness, whether biologic, environmental, social or behavioral, were responsible for the observed reduction in prostate cancer risk," wrote researchers at the Statens Serum Institut, in Copenhagen.

The study is published in the Jan. 7 online edition of Cancer, and will appear in the journal's Feb. 15 print edition.

The findings echo those of a prior Scandinavian study, published in 2005, which looked at more than 48,800 cases of prostate cancer. That report also found a 17 percent lower incidence of prostate cancer among childless men.

In neither of the two studies did the gender of the children fathered affect the man's risk of prostate cancer. However, one large-scale study conducted several years ago in Israel found that the malignancy was 40 percent more common among men with no sons.

Dr. Susan Harlap, now a professor of epidemiology at New York University, led that Israeli study. She said the differing results reflect the complex factors, genetic and otherwise, that underlie prostate cancer risk throughout the world.

"The incidence of prostate cancer is different in Israeli Jews than in northwestern Europeans," Harlap said. "It may be a different disease, and there may be a different set of causes. We do know there are genetic causes of prostate cancer, and there could be different sets of genes in Israeli Jews than in nort
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