Re­search sees link be­tween qual­ity of se­men and pes­ti­cides used on foods

The China Post - - INTERNATIONAL -

Higher lev­els of pes­ti­cide residue in fruit and veg­eta­bles are as­so­ci­ated with lower qual­ity of se­men, ac­cord­ing to a study pub­lished on Tues­day.

Its au­thors said the re­search was only an early step in what should be a much wider in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

In a first rec­om­men­da­tion, they urged men not to stop eat­ing fruit and veg­eta­bles, and pointed to or­gan­i­cally-grown food, or food that is low in pes­ti­cides, as op­tions for low­er­ing any ap­par­ent risk.

The U.S. team an­a­lyzed 338 se­men sam­ples from 155 men at­tend­ing a fer­til­ity cen­ter be­tween 2007 and 2012.

The vol­un­teers were aged be­tween 18 and 55, had not had a va­sec­tomy, and were part of a cou­ple plan­ning to use their own eggs and sperm for fer­til­ity treat­ment.

The men were asked to fill out a ques­tion­naire about their diet, ask­ing them how of­ten, on av­er­age, they con­sumed por­tions of fruit and veg­eta­bles.

Th­ese por­tions were then placed into cat­e­gories of be­ing low, mod­er­ate or high in pes­ti­cide residues, on the ba­sis of U.S. Depart­ment of Agri­cul­ture data.

Peas, beans, grapefruit and onions, for in­stance, fell into the low cat­e­gory, whereas pep­pers, spinach, straw­ber­ries, ap­ples and pears were in the high cat­e­gory.

The data fac­tored in whether the items had been peeled and washed be­fore be­ing eaten.

Men who had the great­est con­sump­tion of high-cat­e­gory fruit and veg­eta­bles had a to­tal sperm count of 86 mil­lion sperm per ejac­u­late.

This was 49 per­cent less than men who ate the least. They had a sperm count of 171 mil­lion per ejac­u­late.

In ad­di­tion, men with the low­est pes­ti­cide residue in­take had an av­er­age of 7.5 per­cent of nor­mally-formed sperm — but this tally was nearly a third lower, at 5.1 per­cent, among those who had the high­est in­take.

There were no sig­nif­i­cant dif­fer­ences be­tween the low- and mod­er­ate-residue groups.

“To our knowl­edge, this is the first re­port on the con­sump­tion of fruit and veg­eta­bles with high lev­els of pes­ti­cide residue in re­la­tion to se­men qual­ity,” said the study, pub­lished in the jour­nal Hu­man Re­pro­duc­tion.

“Th­ese find­ings

sug­gest

that ex­po­sure to pes­ti­cides used in agri­cul­tural pro­duc­tion through diet may be suf­fi­cient to af­fect sper­mato­ge­n­e­sis in hu­mans.”

The study ac­knowl­edged lim­i­ta­tions: men at­tend­ing fer­til­ity clin­ics are prone to hav­ing se­men qual­ity prob­lems, and the diet in this case was as­sessed only once and could have changed over time.

In ad­di­tion, the pes­ti­cide residues were es­ti­mated rather than ac­tu­ally mea­sured in the lab, and it was not known whether the fruit and veg­eta­bles that were con­sumed were con­ven­tion­al­ly­grown or or­ganic.

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