Study: Pesticide Residue on Food May Affect Sperm Quality

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31 Mar 2015 --- The consumption of fruit and vegetables containing traces of pesticide residue could affect a man’s fertility, according to the latest research on the subject.

The research, which was conducted by Harvard University, found that men who ate the most fruit and vegetables with high levels of pesticide residue had a 49% lower sperm count and poorer quality sperm than those who consumed the least.

The researchers analysed 338 semen samples from 155 men aged between 18 and 55. The group with the highest intake of pesticide-heavy fruit and vegetables had an average total sperm count of 86m per ejaculation compared with men eating the least, who had an average of 171m per ejaculation. The amount of normally formed sperm was an average of 7.5% in the group with the lowest consumption and 5.1% in the group with the highest intake.

Researchers involved in the study did acknowledge that other factors could be responsible for some of the results, and said further research was required to eliminate issues such as other fertility problems. 

Nutrition experts also stressed that the findings should not encourage men to reduce their consumption of fruit and vegetables. 

Jorge Chavarro, assistant professor of nutrition and epidemiology at Harvard, said: “We found that total intake of fruit and vegetables was completely unrelated to semen quality. This suggests that implementing strategies specifically targeted at avoiding pesticide residues, such as consuming organically grown produce or avoiding produce known to have large amounts of residues, may be the way to go.”  

The study was published this week in the publication Human Reproduction. 

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