October 24th, 2011
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Eat junk and be impotent

junk food

Love to gorge on those lip-smacking hot dogs and fried chicken? Beware, as a new study has found that young men who eat junk food are more likely to be infertile. Researchers from the Harvard University in the US and the University of Murcia, Spain, found that eating diets high in trans-fats — an ingredient found in most processed meat foods — could damage sperm of young healthy men.

The researchers, who examined sperm from hundreds of men aged between 18 and 22, discovered that men with high intake of junk food had poorer quality sperm that was less likely to survive the journey to fertilise an egg, an UK daily reported. In the University of Murcia study, 188 male volunteers were put into two categories such as “western” — a diet rich in red meat, refined carbs, sweets and energy drinks — and “prudent”, a diet rich in  fruit, vegetables and grains.


Semen tests were then conducted to assess sperm movement, concentration and shape. Adherence to a prudent diet was associated with higher sperm movement while the sperm of men with poor diets was found to be less likely to survive the journey to fertilise an egg, the researchers said. Lead author of the study, Audrey Gaskins, said: “The main overall finding of our work is that a healthy diet seems to be beneficial for semen quality.”

breakfast-in-bed “Specifically, a healthy diet… Seems to improve sperm motility, which means a higher number of sperm actually move around, rather than sit still,” she told the Annual Meeting of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM). In the second study with 100 male volunteers, led by Dr Jorge Chavarro of the Harvard School of Public Health, showed that a diet high in trans fat had lower sperm concentration levels. Trans fat levels found in the sperm and semen also increased.

The researchers, however, stressed that despite the results more work is needed to explore the exact correlation between nutrition and fertility. “This was a small study, and we don’t know if there’s something else about the men that causes them to have worse motility,” said Gaskins. “We don’t know if nutrition actually causes the change. So, for now all we can say is that there’s an association between nutrition and sperm quality,” she added.

Dr Edward Kim of the Society for Male Reproduction and Urology said: “We are still exploring the impact of nutrition on male fertility, but even these initial studies point to a link between a good diet and reproductive health for men.”


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