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Linking Male Infertility and Disease Risks

by SHIRLEY S. WANG,  Wall Street Journal,  Mar 2, 2009
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Little is known about the underlying causes of male infertility, even though it occurs as often as infertility in women.

Now, scientists are focusing on genetic defects to help explain the condition. The research isn't necessarily aimed at finding a cure. Instead, scientists are concerned that male infertility related to genetics could be an indication of more-dangerous health risks—both to the man and his offspring.

"If the gene affects something more than infertility, then there may be other medical conditions that are transmitted," says Dolores Lamb, a professor of urology and molecular cellular biology at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, who is investigating the genetic links between male infertility and other diseases.

Studies done by Dr. Lamb and her colleagues have found evidence of a gene linked to male infertility that is also related to colon and testicular cancers, for example. Other researchers have found that some infertile men whose partners are carriers for cystic fibrosis could have children who develop the chronic lung disease. Scientists estimate that 25% to 50% or more of male-infertility cases are caused by genetic defects, Dr. Lamb says. Read more.


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