Wednesday, 14 March 2012
Beware! Fatty acids lower semen quality
The type of fatty diets men consume could lower the quality of semen, a study reveals.
The study of 99 males, 71 percent of whom were overweight or obese, found a linkage between a high total fat intake and lower total sperm count and concentration.
Significantly, males who ate more omega-3 polyunsaturated fats (found in fish and plant oils) had better sperm than men who ate less of it, the journal Human Reproduction reported.
Men consuming the most saturated fats had a 35 percent lower total sperm count than men eating the least, and a 38 percent lower sperm concentration, according to a statement from the Massachusetts General Hospital.
Jill Attaman, professor of reproductive endocrinology at Massachusetts, said: "If men make changes to their diets so as to reduce the amount of saturated fat they eat and increase their omega-3 intake, then this could improve their reproductive health too."
"At a global level, adopting these lifestyle modifications may improve general health, as high saturated fat diets are known to be a risk factor for a range of cardiovascular diseases; but, in addition, our research suggests that it could be beneficial for reproductive health worldwide," added Attaman.
As little is known about the potential role of dietary fats and semen quality, Attaman and her colleagues set out to investigate it in men attending a fertility clinic.
Between December 2006 and August 2010 they questioned the men about their diet and analysed samples of their semen; they also measured levels of fatty acids in sperm and seminal plasma in 23 of the 99 men taking part.
The study found that the relationship between dietary fats and semen quality was largely driven by the consumption of saturated fats. Men consuming the most saturated fats had a 35 percent lower total sperm count than men eating the least, and a 38 percent lower sperm concentration.
"The magnitude of the association is quite dramatic and provides further support for the health efforts to limit consumption of saturated fat given their relation with other health outcomes such as cardiovascular disease," said Attaman.