Men interested in having children should watch what they eat. A new study links consumption of processed meats—including bacon, hamburgers, and hot dogs—to lower sperm counts.
The study, from the Harvard School of Public Health, showed a correlation between the amount of processed meats a man ate and the quantity and morphology (that is, structure and appearance) of his sperm. Researchers looked at samples from 156 volunteers gathered at the Massachusetts General Hospital Fertility Center and compared them with each volunteer’s food intake, as reported on a survey.
The results found that men who ate more than the equivalent of one serving of bacon or other processed meat per day showed decreased sperm quality. On the other hand, men who ate more servings of fish were more likely to have a higher sperm count and more quality sperm.
Of course, the health dangers of processed meats have been showing up in scientific literature for a while. Studies have shown increased consumption of processed meats to increase one’s risk for heart disease and diabetes, cancer, and early death.
“The existing literature on diet in general and semen quality is scarce,” Dr. Myriam Afeiche of Harvard University’s Department of Nutrition told HuffPost. “We’ll continue looking into this question including the possibility that it is not processed meats that is driving the association but what they are replacing.”
The study was presented at the 2013 American Society for Reproductive Medicine conference.