Male fertility "irreversibly damaged" by eating junk food, alarming new study shows
Fancy becoming a grandparent some day?
Then take note if you have a young son who is a fan of burgers and chips and other types of fast food, warns a new study.
Why? Because some groundbreaking new research has just established that teenagers who favour high-fat and processed foods like pizzas, chips and snacks are killing off sperm-producing cells that can never be replaced.
As in – once they are gone, they are gone. Forever.
According to the study, male fertility was irreversibly damaged by a diet of junk food by the time men reach 18.
Experts have been warning us for a while now that sperm counts have been on a steady decline over the past couple of decades, and many have theorized that our Western diet, high in processed foods, could be the underlying cause of this. However, many of the studies done tended to focus on men in their late 20s, 30s and 40s who were struggling to conceive, and not on younger boys and how their adolcent diets would come to affect their future chances of fatherhood.
But now a worrying new reports from researchers at Harvard shows for the first time that poor diet while growing up may reduce a man's chances of fathering children for the rest of his life.
The Harvard researchers accessed the data of nearly 3,000 men who had a medical examination upon starting national service in Denmark. The average age was 19.
From the responses to a dietary questionnaire, four types of diet were identified: a "Western" diet characterised by red meat, processed meat, fatty and sugary food and drink; a "prudent" diet comprising mainly chicken, fish, vegetables and fruit; a "Smorrebrod" diet of cold processed meats, whole grains, mayonnaise, cold fish, condiments, and dairy; and a vegetarian diet, involving lots of vegetables, soya milk and eggs.
Sperm health, as measured by concentration, volume and motility, was best in those following the prudent diet, followed by the vegetarian and then Smorrebrod diets, with the Western diet yielding the worse readings.
The scientists also conducted hormonal tests indicating the health of sperm-producing Sertoli cells, again finding that these were depleted in the young men who favoured junk food.
In order to protect sperm levels, the study found, a diet dominated by fish, chicken, vegetables and fruit is best.
Here is what Prof Allan Pacey, a leading authority on sperm at the the University of Sheffield, had to say to the Independent about the study: "The concern would be that poor diet younger in life makes a change that sticks with you."
So there you go, mums. If you fancy becoming a granny one day, you better get those smoothies and green things into your sons now – and put a full stop on those McDonald's visits.