Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Pesticides in fruits and vegetables could harm sperm

Harvard: The presence of high levels of pesticides in fruits and vegetables can affect sperm quality. This is the conclusion of a study by US scientists published in the journal "Human Reproduction". This not only leads to reduced sperm count, but the amount of normally formed sperm is also reduced. Harvard University researchers analyzed 338 semen samples from 155 men who had visited a fertility clinic between 2007 and 2012. They also assessed their consumption of fruits and vegetables, and classified the pesticide content of these foods on the basis of national data. How foods were prepared (washed, peeled...) was also taken into account.

The study showed that men who ate fruits and vegetables containing high amounts of pesticide residues had a lower sperm quality. The study subjects who consumed the most (at least 1.5 servings per day) had 49% fewer sperm than participants who consumed the least (less than half a serving per day). In addition, only 5.1% of their sperm were normally made (lowest consumption of fruits and vegetables: 7.5%).
However, according to the researchers, the overall amount of fruits and vegetables consumed did not affect sperm quality. But this does not imply that consumption of fruits and vegetables should be reduced, emphasized the study author, Jorge Chavarro. Instead, it is recommended to look for ways to reduce pesticide load.
The researchers stressed, however, that the results are tainted by a number of shortcomings. Since the study only included men who had gone to a fertility center, sperm quality problems were over-represented. In addition, one survey on the consumption of fruits and vegetables has been completed; so changes in eating habits were not taken into account.