Saturday, August 30, 2008

Caution: Dad may be hazardous to your health

Here's another risk factor for breast cancer: having a middle-aged father. Chromosomal abnormalities in older maternal eggs can increase the incidence of birth defects; this connection is well-established. Now it seems that sperm also has a "Best Used By" date, despite the fact that men can sire children well into their senior years.

Recent research has linked advanced paternal age to increased incidence of dwarfism, schizophrenia, autism, and both prostate and breast cancers in offspring. These conditions may be caused by chromosome duplication errors which occur after decades of sperm cell creation. Since men don't experience a defined end to their reproductive years like menopause, how old is too old? In the case of the breast cancer data, pre-menopausal women with fathers who were over 40 at time of conception had nearly twice the chance of developing breast cancer as women with fathers less than 30 years of age.

My dad was 47 when I was born. Since there's no history of breast cancer in my family, I've been reduced to trying to identify environmental or behavioral causes. Not enough exercise? Too many glasses of wine? Maybe standing in front of the microwave was not such a good idea. In an odd way, it would be a comfort to know that I got it because some of my genes are all hinky.

"Association of paternal age at birth and the risk of breast cancer in offspring: a case control study." BMC Cancer [Link]

"Older fathers appear to raise risks of genetic disorders." International Herald Tribune [Link]

1 comment:

concerned heart said...

Very, very true. Non-familial breast cancers, Alzheimer's, prostate cancers, autism, schizophrenia, type 1 diabetes, MS, and many other disorders are often caused by the sperm DNA defects which begin rapidly accumulated in sperm stem cells by a man's 33rd birthday and on. As renowned geneticist James F. Crow said older father are the greatest genetic hazard on earth. See this scientific paper for info