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Declining sperm

MagazineJuly 1995 (Vol. 6 Issue 4)Declining sperm

Although the issue of declining male sperm count has been hotly debated in the medical press, mounting evidence points to pesticides

Although the issue of declining male sperm count has been hotly debated in the medical press, mounting evidence points to pesticides. A workshop helped in Copenhagen in early 1995, at the request of the Danish Environmental Protection Agency and Ministry of Environment and Energy, produced a comprehensive report on the influence of environmental estrogens on male reproductive health. The committee recorded growing evidence that declining sperm counts and other problems were linked with the action of xeno-estrogens, particularly when male fetuses had mothers exposed to high levels during their lifetime. Several of the biggest culprits were the organochlorine pesticides.

Organochlorides, due to their chemical shape, are able to act as "estrogen mimics". The Copenhagen committee, as well as others, have found that if the developing male embryo, during the critical time of sexual differentiation, is excessively exposed to estrogen mimics such as organophosphates, it could lead to demasculinization and other problems such as low sperm counts. Similar findings were also established when synthetic estrogen diethylstibestrol (DES) was given to mothers for the prevention of miscarriages. The male children born to these mothers were found to have either undescended or small testes, low sperm counts and testicular cancer (The Lancet, April 15, 1995).Last year, another Danish study supported this theory with proof that organic farmers had higher sperm counts than other men (The Lancet, June 10, 1994).


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