Eating These Traditional Sweets Could Be Making You Infertile
If you're trying for a baby, it's usually a good idea to limit treats and improve your diet any way you can. Now however, researchers are warning that one particular type of sweet should be off the menu entirely.
A study of the reproductive tissues of mice found that exposure to isoliquiritigenin (iso), a compound found in licorice, disrupts steroid sex hormone production in the ovary.
Worryingly, the first study of its kind showed that the licorice compound caused aromatase, an enzyme that converts testosterone to estrogen, to drop by more than 50 percent.
While more research must be carried out, experts have labelled the findings, published in the journal Reproductive Toxicology, as concerning.
"In general, when you start to have lower hormone levels, you could start to have problems with reproduction," says University of Illinois comparative biosciences professor Jodi Flaws, who led the study with researcher Sharada Mahalingam.
"And because estrogen is also important for healthy brains, healthy bones, a healthy cardiovascular system, if the levels are depleted for too long, you could have problems with those systems. We haven't shown that to be the case. That's just a possibility.
"I would say, though, that a 50-plus percent drop in aromatase in humans would be a serious problem for fertility and for other things," Flaws said.
While iso does have properties that make it effective against some cancers, women of childbearing age should avoid it because those same properties can make it toxic to ovary growth and development.