October 16, 2013
Male Fertility May Suffer With A Slice Of Bacon
Lee Rannals for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online
America's love affair with bacon is pretty significant and most people agree this salty, fatty, addictive meat and anything wrapped with it can do no wrong. However, a new piece of evidence suggests the pork product, as well as other salty processed meats, may actually harm fertility.
Harvard University researchers said at the American Society for Reproductive Medicine's (ASRM) annual meeting in Boston that consumption of processed meats, such as bacon, significantly lowers the amount of normal sperm compared to men who limit their intake of such foods.
Researchers examined the diets of 156 men in couples who were having problems with conceiving a child. The team not only looked at nutritional intake, but also the size and shape of their sperm.
Participants were asked how often they ate a range of foods, including processed meat, white meat, red meat, white fish and tuna or salmon. They found men who ate less than a portion of bacon a day had 30 percent more normal sperm than those who ate higher quantities of processed meats. On the other end of the spectrum, men who ate more fish had a significantly higher percentage of quality sperm.
"Processed meat intake was associated with lower percent morphologically normal sperm while white meat fish intake was associated with higher percent morphologically normal sperm. Dark meat fish intake was related to higher total sperm count," the researchers wrote in a paper published in the journal Fertility and Sterility.
The Harvard investigators also asked the fertility patients about their consumption of alcohol and caffeine and determined both substances were unrelated to semen quality parameters such as sperm count and motility.
“Helping men understand how their behavior may impact their fertility is very important. These studies help us provide better information to our patients,” Rebecca Sokol, MD, Vice President of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, said in a statement.
Scientists have known that a healthy diet was associated with sperm quality, but this study focused on more specific areas of a poor diet.
Dr Allan Pacey, a fertility expert at the University of Sheffield, told The Telegraph's Laura Donnelly that advice to eat less processed meat and more fish was good health advice, regardless of whether it’s to raise sperm quality or not.
“It is already known that high intake of processed meat is linked to other health issues and so advising men to limit their intake of processed food may improve their health generally as well as possibly be good for their fertility,” he said.