A new study finds that, among a group of men in Israel, men with only daughters had a 40 percent higher risk of prostate cancer than men with at least one son. The study raises the possibility that some mutation or variant on the Y chromosome may be involved in prostate cancer.
Although several studies have identified risk factors for prostate cancer and found some gene mutations that are associated with the disease, none of these can account for large numbers of prostate cancer cases. Some studies have suggested that prostate cancer risk may be associated with alterations on the X or Y chromosomes.
Because alterations on the sex chromosomes might affect the probability of having sons or daughters, Susan Harlap, M.D., of Columbia University in New York, decided to study cancer incidence and offspring among men participating in the Jerusalem Perinatal Study. During the study period, 712 men were diagnosed with prostate cancer. Compared with men who had at least one son, men with only daughters had a 40 percent increased risk of prostate cancer. Men with no daughters had no increase or decrease in prostate cancer risk compared with men with offspring of both sexes.
“Overall, our findings are consistent with hypotheses that tie Y chromosome loci to prostate cancer, although other explanations cannot be excluded,” they write.