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New Meta-analysis finds that among men from North America, Europe and Australia, sperm concentration has declined more than 50% in less than 40 years

HEAL’s reaction

New Meta-analysis finds that among men from North America, Europe and Australia, sperm concentration has declined more than 50% in less than 40 years and points toward importance of further investigation into environmental factors

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Brussels, 26 July 2017 – New research released today by the Hebrew University of Jerusalem points to an alarming decline in male reproductive health, and suggests worrying implications for male fertility and reproduction [1]. Based on data collected on men from North America, Europe, Australia and New Zealand from 1973 to 2011, the study performed the first ever systematic review and meta-analysis on sperm counts and found a decline of more than 59%, with no sign of levelling off over time. The findings are significant considering that low sperm levels have also been linked with higher risks of hospitalization and death.

Natacha Cingotti, health and chemicals policy officer at the Health and Environmental Alliance, commented: “This new study confirms the already serious concerns that reproductive health and fertility are negatively impacted by environmental factors such as prenatal chemical exposure and adult exposure to toxic chemicals. This should provide impetus for governments to urgently take measures to reduce human exposure to substances such as pesticides or endocrine disruptors – this can start today and remains the best way to prevent unnecessary diseases and deaths in the future.

The findings come at a time of heated debate around two major environmental health dossiers in the European context: the discussions on the relicensing of glyphosate – the world’s most selling herbicide that the UN independent cancer agency IARC has classified as probably carcinogenic to humans – for another 10 years [2] and the upcoming European Parliament vote on identification criteria for endocrine disrupting pesticides [3].

The full study and related press release are available in English here.

Health professionals - such as the International Federation of Gynaecologists and Obstetricians among others – and academics have long called for the effects of chemicals on fertility and reproduction to be part of primary prevention [4]. HEAL has also long highlighted the negative impacts of chemicals for fertility and reproduction as part of the broader health risks of environmental factors such as exposure to chemicals [5].


Notes to the editor:

[1] https://academic.oup.com/humupd/article-abstract/doi/10.1093/humupd/dmx022/4035689/Temporal-trends-in-sperm-count-a-systematic-review?redirectedFrom=fulltext

[2] http://www.env-health.org/resources/press-releases/article/giant-weedkiller-bottle-torn-down

[3] Endocrine disrupting chemicals are artificial chemicals that interfere with the neutral hormone system in our bodies and are very likely contributing to numerous health disorders, such as cancer, infertility problems, or obesity among others. For more information on the pesticides criteria, see: http://www.env-health.org/resources/press-releases/article/ngos-acknowledge-vote-on-first

[4] See for instance: https://prhe.ucsf.edu/international-federation-gynecology-and-obstetrics-figo-opinion-reproductive-health-impacts-exposure ; https://prhe.ucsf.edu/sites/prhe.ucsf.edu/files/Professional%20Statements%20Database.pdf; https://prhe.ucsf.edu/sites/prhe.ucsf.edu/files/shapingourlegacy.pdf

[5] See for instance: http://env-health.org/IMG/pdf/reproductive_problems-2.pdf ; http://www.env-health.org/news/latest-news/article/health-costs-in-the-eu-how-much-is

Contacts:

Natacha Cingotti – Policy Officer, Chemicals and Health, Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL), +32 (0)2 234 36 45, natacha@env-health.org

Originally posted on 26 July 2017

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The Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL) is a leading European not-for-profit organisation addressing how the environment affects health in the European Union (EU). We demonstrate how policy changes can help protect health and enhance people’s quality of life. Read more »

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