A new review of hundreds of studies has pinpointed a ‘canary in a coal mine’ that not only affects men’s health today, but also future generations of humans and our ability to create them. The results of the study are alarming. Sperm counts are declining rapidly, and there is no indication that it will slow down. We’ve already covered how some popular foods contain a chemical ingredient that is linked to infertility in men and how it’s estimated that certain chemicals are linked to a $340 BILLION per year loss in health care expenses and productivity. Here is an additional study that demonstrates how serious endocrine disrupting chemicals potentially are.
Alarmingly, sperm counts have fallen nearly 60 percent among men since the early 1970s. Sperm concentration has fallen almost as much in the same populations. Declining sperm counts were first reported in the early ’90s, when they realized there had been a considerable drop in previous decades. This review is the first conclusive study to track the decline over time.
The Study of Sperm Decline in the Western World
The review, Temporal trends in sperm count: a systematic review and meta-regression analysis, was published in the journal Human Reproduction Update. The review was conducted by Hebrew University-Hadassah Braun School of Public Health and Community Medicine and the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. Researchers conducted a meta-regression analysis of over 7,000 studies. They then pulled together 185 different studies that reported primary data on human sperm count. It took estimates of sperm counts and total sperm counts from 42,935 men that had been involved in those studies. They also took information about all of the subjects. This information included whether they had been selected for their fertility, location, age and abstinence time before collection.
This data was pooled into two separate groups. The first group included those who had been proven fertile through parenthood or fathering a pregnancy. The second group included those who had not been proven fertile by a pregnancy (but were not necessarily infertile). The researchers first looked at men living in North America, Europe, Australia and New Zealand. They found that these men had decreasing sperm counts and sperm concentration throughout the time period covered by the research. Men from non-Western areas such as South America, Africa, and Asia did not show the same decline.
What Chemicals Affect Sperm Count?
The review noted several reasons for sperm count decreases, including being exposed to endocrine disruptors, pesticides, diet, stress, and smoking. For example, endocrine disruptors, specifically phthalates, may affect embryo quality, causing more birth defects and infant loss. Unfortunately, they are prevalent and consistent in plastics, hygiene products, and food. And they have been found in men’s personal care products and even in popular mac n’ cheese products.
Other chemicals are suspected as well. Another toxic endocrine disruptor, PFAS (per- and poly fluoroalkyl substances), can be found in food containers and fast food wrappers, as well as non-stick cooking pans. And pesticides can also affect men’s health, whether they are exposed to them by working with them or through diet, where the majority of Americans’ exposure comes from.
The review also found evidence showing that the sperm count decrease could be passed along genetically. This would mean that babies may be born already affected.
What Does This All Mean for Your Family
The report states that this is an indicator for future health problems unless the trends change. As they say in the report, “Thus, a decline in sperm count might be considered as a ‘canary in the coal mine’ for male health across the lifespan. Our report of a continuing and robust decline should, therefore, trigger research into its causes, aiming for prevention.”
The report findings were discovered to be consistent with reported trends in other male reproductive health indicators. These include testicular germ cell tumors, cryptorchidism, the onset of male puberty and overall testosterone levels.
Male infertility is also a burden to the relationships and finances of couples struggling to create a family. The decline in sperm count without any leveling off means that even more problems with fertility are expected. One in ten couples currently struggles with fertility. Male infertility accounts for almost half the issues of couples struggling to get pregnant.
Project leader Dr. Hagai Levine stated concern about the future if certain changes were not made to current modern aspects. These changes include everything from unhealthy lifestyles to exposure to chemicals. “Eventually, we may have a problem, and with reproduction in general, and it may be the extinction of the human species,” he told the BBC.
Levine is head of the Environmental Health Track at the Hebrew University-Hadassah Braun School of Public Health and Community Medicine, Jerusalem. He worked with Dr. Shanna H. Swan, Professor in the Department of Environmental Medicine and Public Health at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York. An international team of researchers from Brazil, Denmark, Israel, Spain and the U.S. participated in the study.
How To Avoid Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals
These are some of our top tips for avoiding the dangers of endocrine disruptors in your home to safeguard the health and fertility of the men in your life. Please note that these suggestions would also be relevant for all women as well to avoid endocrine disrupting chemicals.
- Buy personal care, bath and beauty products that are free of triclosan, parabens and phthalates.
- Buy furniture that is free of flame-retardants.
- Avoid toxic fragrances in your bath and beauty products.
- Eliminate plastic containers and other products from your kitchen.
- Use safe stainless steel water bottles.
- Switch to organic lawn care solutions.
- Purchase seafood with caution.
- Eliminate canned foods from your pantry.
- Use a high-quality water filtration system.
- Use natural cleaning solutions for cleaning and laundry, such as apple cider vinegar, baking soda and lemon juice.
- Trim the fat off your cuts of meat and eat low or nonfat dairy because toxins are stored in animal fat
How does this study make you feel? Are you concerned about what is happening to the human race? Do you think endocrine disrupting chemicals are to blame? Share with us your thoughts.