News on Health & Science

Insights: In a Man’s Offspring, a Clue to Prostate Cancer

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Men who have only daughters may be at greater risk for prostate cancer than those who have at least one son, a new study reports, and the reason may be an alteration in the Y chromosome, the male sex chromosome.

Prostate Cancer in Fathers With Fewer Male Offspring: the Jerusalem Perinatal Study Cohort (Journal of the National Cancer Insitute)Researchers recorded the sex of the offspring of 38,934 Israeli men who had children from 1964 to 1976, and then followed the fathers through 2005, during which time 712 developed prostate cancer. After adjusting for other variables, they found that those with no sons were almost one and a half times as likely to have developed the disease as those with at least one son. The more daughters they had without having any sons, the more their risk increased.

Because the inability to produce male children is associated with alterations in the Y chromosome, this suggests that the chromosome may be involved in prostate cancer risk.
Still, said Dr. Susan Harlap, the lead author and a professor of clinical epidemiology at Columbia,  The main reason a man has male or female children, even in runs of one sex, is chance. She said she did not recommend extra prostate screening for men with only daughters.

The researchers acknowledge that their study, published Jan. 3 in The Journal of the National Cancer Institute, gathered no information about family history of prostate cancer. In addition, they studied a specific group of men, and it may not be possible to generalize the results to other populations.

Prostate cancer is a huge mystery,  Dr. Harlap said, not like lung or colon cancer, where we have a pretty good idea about causes. Our study gives a hint to look at the Y chromosome, and maybe the X chromosome, too, while you  are at it.

Source:The New York Times

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