Want Higher Quality Sperm? Avoid Bacon

Study reveals high levels of processed meat in a diet affect man’s fertility

To those fellas intent on becoming fathers, it might be time to scrap your processed meat daily consumption. A new study presented this week at a meeting of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine in Boston by scientists at Harvard University revealed that one ration of bacon a day can damage a man’s fertility and affect semen quality, The Age reported.

In determining the findings, researchers compared the diet and sperm size and shape of 156 men in couples who were having trouble conceiving and undergoing in vitro fertilization. 

Results indicated that men who regularly ate processed meat had significantly lower levels of normal sperm compared to those who ate less amount of foods such as bacon, sausage, hamburgers, ham and mince. Specifically, men who consumed half a portion of processed meat a day had just 5.5 per cent ‘normal’ shaped sperm cells, compared to 7.2 percent of those who ate limited portions.

On the contrary, men who ate higher quantities of white fish such as cod every day had higher semen quality. 

Researchers said it was not clear why such foods impacted on men's fertility, however red meat is thought to have higher levels of pesticides that could potentially interfere with hormones.

Dr. Allan Pacey, a fertility expert at the University of Sheffield, said while it is widely known that a healthy diet could improve male fertility, it is still unknown why these specific foods affected sperm quality negatively:

"The relationship between diet and men's fertility is an interesting one and there is convincing evidence that men who eat more fresh fruit and vegetables have better sperm than men who don't. However, less is known about the fertility of men with poor diets,” he said.

Anotherstudy conducted by Harvard last year also linked high red meat consumption to increased risks of diabetes, coronary heart disease, stroke and certain cancers.


Jodie Gummow is a senior fellow and staff writer at AlterNet.


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