Chemicals in environment `may be harmful to male fertility`

London: Chemicals routinely found in the environment could be damaging fertility in some men, new evidence that has emerged has suggested.

For the study, researchers from Glasgow, Edinburgh and Aberdeen Universities tested sheep that had been exposed to chemicals such as cosmetics, detergents and pollutants.

They found “abnormalities that could result in low sperm counts in 42 percent of the animals”.

All life on the planet is constantly exposed to a range of naturally occurring and man-made chemicals.

Some of the man-made chemicals can interfere with communication systems within the body and potentially have adverse effects on health and wellbeing.

“The key now is to work out why these everyday chemicals affect some individuals more than others,” the BBC quoted Paul Fowler from Aberdeen University as saying.

It has been suggested that some may also be responsible for lowering male sperm count and could possibly explain the rise in demand for in-vitro fertilization (IVF) in humans.

The Scots universities team was joined in its research by scientists from the French National Institute for Agricultural Research (INRA).

They looked at the testicles of sheep that had been exposed to “a typical range of chemicals” encountered by humans from when their mothers were pregnant until after puberty.

“We were very surprised to find abnormalities that could result in low sperm counts in the testicles in 42 percent of the animals,” Michelle Bellingham, from Glasgow University, said.

“The changes were not the same in all affected individuals and they were not obvious from the size of the testicles or from the concentration of male hormones in the blood,” she added.

The study has been published in the International Journal of Andrology.


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