Adults who were born to older fathers may be at increased risk for blood and immune system cancers such as leukemia and lymphoma, according to a study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology.

The researchers analyzed data from 138,003 people enrolled in a long-term American Cancer Society study, and they found that 2,532 people developed blood and immune system cancers between 1992 and 2009.

Overall, people born to older fathers were at increased risk for these cancers, but the risk was especially high among only children.

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In this group, those who were born to fathers who were 35 and older were 63 percent more likely to develop blood cancers than those born to fathers who were younger than 25. There was no association between having an older mother and increased risk of these cancers.

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“The lifetime risk of these cancers is fairly low — about one in 20 men and women will be diagnosed with lymphoma, leukemia, or myeloma at some point during their lifetime — so people born to older fathers should not be alarmed,” study leader Lauren Teras, Ph.D., of the American Cancer Society in Atlanta, said in a journal news release.

“Still, the study does highlight the need for more research to confirm these findings and to clarify the biologic underpinning for this association, given the growing number of children born to older fathers in the United States and worldwide.”


  1. Teras, Lauren R., et al. “Parental Age at Birth and Risk of Hematological Malignancies in Older Adults.” American Journal of Epidemiology. doi: 10.1093/aje/kwu487. [epub ahead of print]. May 11, 2015.