A study released by Harvard scientists and published in the journal Fertility and Sterility suggests that a diet containing trans-fats can have a negative effect on a man’s sperm levels.
The team of researchers, led by scientist Jorge Chavarro, MD, ScD, collected data from a small group of 33 men, but the findings were in agreement with experimental data from rat studies on the same subject, which showed that trans-fatty acids may have a profound impact on spermatogenesis–the process in which sperm cells are made. According to the published findings, “trans–fatty acids were present in human sperm and were related inversely to sperm concentration.”
Despite the findings, Chavarro and his team are cautious of the limitations of their small study, suggesting that more research be done on the subject: “It is important that these hypothesis generating findings be re-evaluated in larger, better-designed studies and that the relation between intake of trans–fats and sperm levels of these fatty acids be examined closely.”
This data joins a number of studies that have determined that trans-fats have a detrimental effect on human health, especially increasing the risk of cardiovascular disease. Small amounts of trans-fats are found in animal foods, but the overwhelming majority are found in foods containing partially hydrogenated vegetable oils, used as a flavor enhancer and as a stabilizer in a number of processed and packaged foods. The health risks have led to bans, including schools no longer being allowed to serve foods containing trans fats to students, and cities like Manhattan, the first to prohibit restaurants from serving foods containing trans-fats.
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