Beginning in 1992, a Danish scientist by the name of Niels Skakkeback raised the alarm on a growing global health crises involving male fertility. After examining 61 international studies involving nearly 15,000 men between 1938 and 1992, he found that the sperm count of the average Western male had declined by roughly 50% over the past 50 years. Numerous studies have been conducted since that time, and have found that the trend has continued unabated.
So what’s causing this precipitous decline in male fertility? One of the leading theories suggests that it may involve environmental pollution of the water supply, specifically estrogen mimicking chemicals like BPA. Now over 20 years since Skakkeback released his findings, a new study has found compelling evidence for this theory.
A team of US researchers recently conducted a study involving mice and estrogen-mimicking chemicals, specifically BPA, which is found in numerous plastics and canned food products, and estradiol, an active ingredient found in contraceptives and hormone therapy pills. While most people have become familiar with BPA in recent years, you may be wondering how a contraceptive would find its way into the average male.
When someone consumes one of these pills, many of the chemicals are excreted through the urinary tract, which eventually finds winds up in the sewers, and back into our waterways. Unfortunately most water treatment plants are not equipped to filter these pollutants from our drinking water. Not only does it cause problems for the wildlife that live in our rivers and lakes, but it poses serious health concerns for anyone who drinks this unfiltered tap water.
But I digress. The researchers fed the mice these chemicals from a very young age. They found that these chemicals disrupt the process of cell division required to produce the sperm, causing them to die at higher rates.
“This mouse model would suggest that here’s actually a reason why these sperm counts would be falling,” said Dr Hunt. “We’re actually doing something to this process that’s going to cause the death of more cells as they’re trying to make sperm. They’re going to get culled out by this quality-control mechanism and the upshot of that will be that if you do enough of this, you’ll drop sperm counts.”
But what was even more worrisome, was the long-lasting effects of these chemicals.
“We have a window of just a few days and we permanently change the way that the testis makes sperm in the adult,” said lead researcher Dr Pat Hunt, from Washington State University.
The only question is, where are we headed if we continue to expose ourselves to these toxins? If these estrogen mimickers aren’t banned from our food supply, and aren’t thoroughly cleaned from our tap water, we may only have one or two generations before we face a catastrophic population decline.
Fortunately, you don’t have to wait for the government to do something about it. As a rule of thumb, try to stick to fresh food as best you can. Avoid canned goods, plastic containers, and disposable utensils, and find yourself a high-quality water filter if you haven’t already. Personally, I’ve found that most filters that separate fluoride, also filter out BPA and pharmaceuticals.
Just do the best you can to stay healthy in general. We live in a world that has completely failed to keep toxic substances out of our food, air and water, so it’s up to us take care of our health in any way we can.
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Contributed by Joshua Krause of Ready Nutrition.