Fathers At Lower Risk Of Cardiovascular Disease
Researchers from the Stanford University School of Medicine released a study this week showing that men who had fathered children were less likely to die from cardiovascular disease than childless men. This largest ever study looked at fertility and mortality and analyzed a decade’s worth of data about 135,000 male AARP members, MSNBC is reporting.
The study, posted online in Human Reproduction, accounts for sociodemographic factors such as education and heart disease risk factors such as diabetes and body-mass index. After taking those factors into account, childless men were 17 percent more likely to have died of heart disease during the decade than the men who were fathers, Reuters reports.
None of the men at the beginning of the study had ever been diagnosed with heart disease or stroke, and all of them were either married or had been married. More than nine out of 10 of the men, whose average age was around 63 at the beginning, had fathered children.
The study results are not intended to show proof of cause and effect, but rather show an association between parental status and cardiovascular risk.
Michael Eisenberg, MD, assistant professor of urology at Stanford explained, “This was the largest-ever study in the United States to examine the relationship between fatherhood and cardiovascular disease.” Moreover, the study was carefully controlled to minimize confounding variables that might otherwise cloud investigators’ capacity to generate meaningful results.
While some of these men may have remained childless by choice, the researcher says that’s not usually the case. A nationwide survey of childless married US men of reproductive age that found 75 percent wanted children at some point.
“A lot of times when we see men for infertility, they’re very young,” Eisenberg says. “A lot of these men are totally healthy. It’s sort of eye-opening to hear there could be something else going on.”
Impaired testicular function is believed to be one of those major reasons, along with heart disease, the researchers write. Testosterone deficiency in infertile men shouldn’t be confused with the widely publicized recent finding that fertile men’s testosterone levels normally drop when they become dads, Eisenberg and his coauthors explained.
Eisenberg explained it was not possible to determine if men in the study chose not to have children or whether the men’s partners were infertile. However, excluding unmarried men offered an approximation of male infertility and the link to heart disease raises important questions that merit further research. ‘My belief it there is a biologic reason,’ he explained to The Daily Mail.
The researchers does not suggest that being childless causes heart problems, but since infertility affects a man’s health at a much younger age, understanding this link could help physicians identify cardiovascular issues earlier, when more time is available for proper intervention.
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