New research suggests that infertile men may be twice as likely to develop breast cancer than those who do not have fertility problems.
The study also found that among those diagnosed with breast cancer, there were significantly more men without children.
Scientists at the Cancer Research Institute, London (ICR) suggest that the results show that further work is needed to understand the underlying causes of male breast cancer – something that is largely unknown.
The study’s author, Dr. Michael Jones, a senior researcher in genetics and epidemiology at ICR, said: “These are important findings linking infertility to breast cancer in men.
“Our study shows that infertile men are twice as likely to develop breast cancer than those who do not have fertility problems.
“The reasons for this connection are unclear, and there is a need to investigate the fundamental role of male fertility hormones in the risk of developing breast cancer in men.
“We hope this can lead to an understanding of the root causes of male and possibly even female breast cancer.”
He added: “Breast cancer is often seen as affecting only women, but men can also be diagnosed with the disease.”
Every year in the UK, around 370 men are diagnosed with breast cancer, and because male breast cancer is rare, research on the disease is usually limited to a small number of patients.
A study of a larger group of men allowed the team to show a statistically significant association between infertility and the risk of invasive breast cancer in men.
The men were asked if they had biological children, if they or their partners had ever had problems conceiving, if they had consulted a doctor or clinic about fertility.
The researchers directly compared the fertility of men with breast cancer with 1,597 men without a history of the disease.
Although the biological cause is unclear, they found that men diagnosed with breast cancer were more likely to report fertility problems.
Dr Simon Vincent, director of research, support and impact at Breast Cancer Now, said: “Identifying the link between infertility and male breast cancer is a step towards understanding male breast cancer and how we could find more ways to diagnose it. and treating men – and possibly women – with this devastating disease.
“The important thing is that we hope that the knowledge we gained from this study will reach more men who may find it helpful to know about male breast cancer.”
Davefrom Bristol worked as a police officer for 22 years before retiring to start his own IT company.
In 2015, a 64-year-old girl was diagnosed with breast cancer. He has since undergone a mastectomy, a treatment, and is now in good condition but is still taking medication to reduce the chances of cancer coming back.
Dave said: “I was on holiday in Florida celebrating my birthday when I discovered a lump in my soul.
“It didn’t hurt, and I didn’t tell anyone about it because life seemed normal.
“I didn’t know that men should be tested for breast cancer, but I know that if your body changes, you shouldn’t leave it, so I went to my doctor as soon as I got home and they referred me to a specialist consultant.
“Even though I was told it was probably just fat, I had an ultrasound and a biopsy. A week later I was diagnosed with breast cancer. The tumor was the size of a golf ball. ”
He added: “My mother died of ovarian cancer when she was 68 and I knew there was a link between ovarian cancer and breast cancer, but in general little is known about male breast cancer.
“People will say, ‘I didn’t realize men could get it,’ and honestly, I didn’t think I’d ever get it.”
The results of the study are published in the journal Breast Cancer Research.