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Dietary Fats Seem to Affect Sperm Quality
Date:10/26/2010

By Steven Reinberg
HealthDay Reporter

TUESDAY, Oct. 26 (HealthDay News) -- Men who eat foods containing a lot of saturated fats -- think burgers and fries -- and monounsaturated fats may be harming their sperm, a new study by Harvard researchers suggests.

Men consuming a lot of these types of fats may be producing fewer and less active sperm.

Conversely, men who consume foods containing healthier, polyunsaturated fats such as omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids (fish, whole grains) may be producing healthier sperm, the study suggested.

"We observed significant relationships between dietary fat and semen quality," said lead researcher Dr. Jill Attaman, an instructor in obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive biology. "This shows an association between modifiable lifestyle factors, specifically nutrition, and male fertility potential."

The reasons for the apparent connection aren't clear, Attaman said. But, she added, different types of fats are treated differently in the body.

"Polyunsaturated fats are important components of sperm cell membranes and may influence the ability of sperm to fertilize an egg," she explained, adding that they "may [also] stimulate hormone production."

The results of the study were presented Monday at the American Society for Reproductive Medicine annual meeting, in Denver.

For the study, Attaman's team analyzed the sperm of 91 men who were attending the Massachusetts General Hospital Fertility Center in Boston. The men also answered questions about their diet and the types of fats they ate. A number of the men also had levels of fatty acids in their sperm and semen measured, the researchers said.

The researchers found that men with the highest intake of saturated fat had 41 percent fewer sperm than men who ate the lowest amount of saturated fat. And men with the highest intake of monounsaturated fat had 46 percent fewer sperm compared with men with the lowest
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