"For example, whether the man was a current smoker or not was of little importance. The proportion of men who had low numbers of swimming sperm was similar whether they had never been a smoker or a smoker who was currently smoking more than 20 cigarettes a day. Similarly, there was little evidence of any risk associated with alcohol consumption," the researchers wrote.
Povey said the findings potentially overturn "much of the current advice given to men about how they might improve their fertility and suggests that many common lifestyle risks may not be as important as we previously thought. Delaying fertility treatment then for these couples so that they can make changes to their lifestyles, for which there is little evidence of effectiveness, is unlikely to improve their chances of a conception and, indeed, might be prejudicial for couples with little time left to lose."
Experts in the United States weren't entirely convinced.
For his part, Bar-Chama, who is also associate professor of urology and obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive science at Mt. Sinai School of Medicine, said that "a single study that is counter to prior literature and common sense needs to be put into proper perspective."
According to Bar-Chama, "there is a plethora of science publications clearly indicating that illicit drug use such as marijuana, as well as chronic cigarette smoking, impairs semen parameters and fertility. Exposure to increased scrotal temperature as well as an increased BMI [overweight/obesity] is also well known to impair male fertility."
Dr. Avner Hershlag is chief of The Center for Human Reproduction at North Shore University Hospital in Manhasset, N.Y. He said that while "this important study puts to rest many concerns regarding the effect of lifestyle on sperm quality," it
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