Dr. Yani Lu’s latest research discovery at City of Hope could change the way doctors understand and treat certain cancers.
Lu, a postdoctoral fellow in the Division of Cancer Etiology, looked into the relationship between a father’s age and his adult offspring’s likelihood of developing certain cancers.
|Dr. Yani Lu discovered a connection between a father’s age and his children’s chances to develop certain cancers.|
Dr. Lu concluded that the children of older fathers face an increased risk of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma later in life.
“As a man, you may think you can have a baby at 50 or 60” with no real repercussions, Lu says. “But there may be other risks for your child down the line.”
The idea of a “biological clock” is commonly associated with women alone, but Lu’s research challenges that double standard. In the study, Lu points out that older parents are prone to passing on undesirable genetic traits.
Lu believes the male biological clock might relate to mutations that can accumulate in a man’s reproductive cells over the course of a lifetime. Such cells divide more rapidly than a woman’s reproductive cells. More divisions lead to more chances for abnormalities.
But because many non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma patients are well into their 60s or 70s at the time of diagnosis, most research on the disease has failed to consider genetic effects at all.
Lu and her research team recognized that being born to older parents can have consequences extending well into adulthood.
“For adult-onset malignancies, people seldom think back to factors early in life,” Lu says.
Lu plans to continue her research on the male biological clock by focusing on other, similar cancers.