Daughters linked to prostate cancer
American and Israeli researchers say that they may have found a link between prostate cancer and a gene that makes men more likely to father daughters.
The scientists found that men with three daughters and no sons were up to 60 per cent more likely to develop prostate cancer compared to those who had fathered a son.
They suggested that the finding may be due to a genetic abnormality in the men's Y chromosome which makes both female offspring and prostate cancer more likely.
The Mailman School of Public Health and Hebrew University teams emphasised that there is no innate prostate cancer risk associated with the act of conceiving a daughter.
Children's gender is dependent on whether they receive the X or Y chromosomes containing a genetic 'blueprint' from their father.
Men with damaged Y chromosomes are less likely to have sons while those with damaged X chromosomes may be unable to have daughters.
The increased risk for prostate cancer fell to 47 per cent among men who had one or two daughters and no son.
"We anticipate that this finding will have a significant impact on the direction of research in prostate cancer," said professor Susan Harlap of the Mailman School of Public Health.
Prostate cancer is the most common form of the disease among men in the UK, with around 30,000 new cases diagnosed annually, but its causes are still little understood.
The study has been published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.