November 02, 2005

Father's Age Linked to Schizophrenia

A recent study published in the British Medical Journal supports the previously reported hypothesis that schizophrenia is linked to a father's age. Professor Finn Rasmussen, of the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, led this study comparing paternal age and the incidence of schizophrenia in a Swedish population of 700,000. He suspects that the increased risk is caused by mutations that occur spontaneously in a man's sperm and accumulate as he ages. Based on hospital record from 1989 to 2001, Rasmussen and colleagues estimated that 15.5% of schizophrenia cases may be due to the patient having a father who was over 30 at the time of birth. As the expected lifespan increases, people are waiting longer to have children. Between 1980 and 2002, the average paternal age in England and Wales rose by 3 years. Though that may not sound like much, Rasmussen estimates that even this small increase could result in 12-15 percent more cases of schizophrenia, making this and related studies especially relevant for the future.

On a positive note there is research into genetic damage of sperm suggesting that if a person eats a healthy diet (maximizing vegetables and minimizing intake of sugars, simple carbohydrates and animal fats) and consumes antioxidant vitamins such as vitamin C, vitamin E, alpha lipoic acid, etc that some level of genetic damage from "free radicals" could be prevented. There is no research, as yet, showing what the optimal levels of antioxidants might be to minimize damage, nor whether this damage minimization has any effect in reducing the incidence of schizophrenia caused by "old sperm". It seems an area that could be ripe for research to help lower the incidence of schizophrenia worldwide.

More information on Older Father's Age and Schizophrenia

Source: Study Backs Link Between Father’s Age, Schizophrenia. Pack Tribune. press release, Oct 22, 2005

Other Articles:

Study Confirms Older Father Ups Schizophrenia Risk
Schizophrenia Genetics, Imprinting
Risk if Mother has Schizophrenia


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