A new study has found that infertile men may be as twice as likely to develop breast cancer than those without fertility issues.

The study also found there were significantly more men with no children among those who had been diagnosed with breast cancer.

Scientists at The Institute of Cancer Research, London (ICR), suggest the findings indicate further work is needed to understand the underlying causes of male breast cancer – something that is largely unknown.

Study author Dr Michael Jones, senior staff scientist in genetics and epidemiology at the ICR, said: “These are important findings linking infertility to breast cancer in men.

“Our study suggests that infertile men may be twice as likely as those without fertility issues to develop breast cancer.

Bicester Advertiser: Significantly more men with no children had been diagnosed with breast cancer the study found (PA)Significantly more men with no children had been diagnosed with breast cancer the study found (PA)

“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.

“We hope this could lead to insights into the underlying causes of male, and possibly even female, breast cancer.”

“Breast cancer is often thought of as something that only affects women, but men can also be diagnosed with the disease," he added.

How was the research conducted?

The new research from the Breast Cancer Now male breast cancer study looked at 1,998 men newly diagnosed with the disease in England and Wales over a 12-year period.

About 370 men are diagnosed with breast cancer each year in the UK, and because male breast cancer is rare, research into the disease is usually limited to a small number of patients.

Studying a larger group of men enabled the team to show a statistically significant association between infertility and risk of invasive breast cancer in men.

The men were asked whether they had biological children, if they or their partners had ever experienced problems conceiving, or if they had visited a doctor or clinic for fertility concerns.

Researchers directly compared the fertility of the men with breast cancer to 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.