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Saturated fats behind falling sperm count

10 January, 2013

ISLAMABAD: Saturated fat may be linked to low sperm counts in men, researchers say.

The new study found that young Danish men who consumed the most saturated fats had significantly lower concentrations of sperm, the New York Daily News reported.

Saturated fats, like those found in rich cheeses and meats, may do more than weigh men down after a meal - a Danish study also links them to dwindling sperm counts.

Researchers found that young Danish men who ate the most saturated fats had a 38 percent lower concentration of sperm, and 41 percent lower sperm counts in their semen, than those who ate the least fat.

According to Tina Jensen, lead author of the study from Rigshospitalet in Copenhagen, it cannot be said that it has a causal effect, but other studies have shown that saturated fat intake has shown a connection to other problems and now also for sperm count.

For their study, Jensen and her colleagues surveyed and examined 701 young Danish men who were about 20 years old and getting checkups for the military between 2008 and 2010.

They were asked about the food they ate over the prior three months, and then asked for a semen sample. The researchers then broke the results into four groups depending on how much of the men's energy intake came from saturated fats, and compared how much sperm the men in each group produced.

The men who got less than 11.2 percent of their energy from saturated fats had an average sperm concentration of 50 million per millilitre of semen and a total sperm count of about 163 million.

That compared to 45 million sperm per millilitre of semen and a 128 million count in men who got more than 15 percent of their energy from saturated fats.

The World Health Organization defines anything over 15 million sperm per millilitre of semen as normal. In the study, 13 percent of men in the lowest-fat group and 18 percent of men in the highest-fat group fell below that level. Although the study cannot determine whether other lifestyle factors might account for the link, Jensen said her team's findings may partially explain studies that have found sperm counts decreasing around the world.

The study has been published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

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