Pesticides damage sperm
Eating fruits and vegetables contaminated with pesticide residue may lower men’s sperm counts, a new study has found. Researchers at Harvard University surveyed 155 men who had sought fertility treatment about their eating habits. They found that subjects who ate more soft, thin-skinned fruits and vegetables such as apples, grapes, and potatoes—foods that tend to contain high levels of pesticide residue—had about half as many sperm and almost a third fewer normally formed sperm than those who consumed more thick-skinned produce, such as avocados and pineapples.
While the researchers were unable to determine if the pesticides actually caused the sperm damage and how that damage might impact male fertility, it appears that overexposure may interfere with hormones and increase rates of cell death. “It was actually very surprising that we were able to identify such a strong association,” says study author Jorge Chavarro. “I think this raises a lot more questions.”