Risk of metabolic disorders in childless men: a population-based cohort study

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  • Ane Berger Bungum
  • Clara Helene Glazer
  • Jens Peter Bonde
  • Peter M Nilsson
  • Aleksander Giwercman
  • Sandra Søgaard Tøttenborg

OBJECTIVE: To study whether male childlessness is associated with an increased risk of metabolic disorders such as metabolic syndrome (MetS) and diabetes.

DESIGN: A population-based cohort study.

SETTING: Not applicable.

PARTICIPANTS: 2572 men from the population-based Malmö Diet and Cancer Cardiovascular Cohort.


MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: From cross-sectional analyses, main outcome measures were ORs and 95% CIs for MetS and diabetes among childless men. In prospective analyses, HRs and 95% CI for diabetes among childless men.

RESULTS: At baseline, in men with a mean age of 57 years, the prevalence of MetS was 26% and 22% among childless men and fathers, respectively. Similarly, we observed a higher prevalence of diabetes of 11% among childless men compared with 5% among fathers. In the cross-sectional adjusted analyses, childless men had a higher risk of MetS and diabetes, with ORs of 1.22 (95% CI 0.87 to 1.72) and 2.12 (95% CI 1.34 to 3.36) compared with fathers. In the prospective analysis, during a mean follow-up of 18.3 years, we did not see any increase in diabetes risk among childless men (HR 1.02 (0.76 to 1.37)).

CONCLUSION: This study provides evidence of an association between male childlessness and a higher risk of MetS and diabetes. However, as these associations were found in cross-sectional analyses, reverse causation cannot be excluded.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere020293
JournalBMJ Open
Issue number8
Pages (from-to)1-7
Number of pages7
Publication statusPublished - 2018

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