Finding out you're infertile can be devastating whether you're male or female. But for men, the inability to conceive children naturally could be dangerous too.
One of the largest ever studies of the disease has now revealed that infertile men may be twice as likely to develop breast cancer than those without fertility issues, The Guardian reported.
The new research was published in the journal Breast Cancer Research.
As per the experts at the Institute of Cancer Research, London (ICR), the findings indicated further work was needed to understand the underlying causes of male breast cancer, which remain largely unknown.
According to the study's author, Dr. Michael Jones, a senior staff scientist in genetics and epidemiology at the ICR, the reasons behind this association are unclear, and there is a need to investigate the fundamental role of male fertility hormones on the risk of breast cancer in men.
The largest ever study undertaken on male breast cancer looked at 1,998 men newly diagnosed with the disease in England and Wales over a 12-year period.
Studying a larger group of men enabled the team to show a statistically significant association between infertility and the risk of male breast cancer.
Researchers directly compared the fertility of the men with breast cancer with 1,597 men with no history of the disease. While the biological reason is unclear, they discovered that men diagnosed with breast cancer were more likely to report fertility issues.
Scientists also found there were significantly more men with no children among those who had been diagnosed with breast cancer.
Dr. Simon Vincent, the director of research, support, and influence at Breast Cancer Now, said: "Many people don't realize that men can get breast cancer, because the incidence is much lower in men than women. However, every year in the UK around 370 men are diagnosed with breast cancer, and around 80 men die from it and it's vital that we support anyone affected by breast cancer.
"Discovering a link between infertility and male breast cancer is a step towards us understanding male breast cancer and how we could find more ways to diagnose and treat men – and possibly women – with this devastating disease."