Is Bacon to Blame for Infertility in Men?
There’s a new Harvard study tying bacon, sausage and other processed meats to “lower sperm quality” in men, and I can't help but roll my eyes a little.
Oh, science. Apparently there’s a new Harvard study tying bacon, sausage and other processed meats to “lower sperm quality” in men. And there’s a flip side: fish, especially halibut and cod, seems to produce healthy sperm. “We found the effect of processed meat intake lowered [sperm] quality,” explained lead researcher Dr. Myriam Afeiche. “And fish raised quality.” So the message to men out there is this: if you want to have a baby, you better learn to like fish with your morning eggs.
It’s a small study focusing on only 156 men, and sperm can be especially tricky to classify as large or small, explains Allen Pacey of the British Fertility Society.
But here’s the thing. If you are wondering why Harvard would bother themselves with research like this when there are things like cancer to cure, then you’re in my head at this moment.
My husband is a bacon eater. Very pro-bacon. We even made him chocolate chip bacon cookies for his birthday one year. And when I say “we”, I mean myself and our three kids who were all born naturally and easily in the space of four years. Bacon was not a problem for us.
But that doesn’t mean it isn’t a problem.
I’ll admit that I rolled my eyes over this study. Oh, brother. Now guys have to feel guilty about eating delicious bacon cheeseburgers? There’s something silly about connecting trivial, crispy bacon with the serious matter of infertility.
But it’s real. A very grown-up problem with a complicated set of possible solutions. Plenty of people care a great deal about what could or might increase their chances to conceive. As Shereen Dindar explains on Shine:
“The study is set to be presented this week to the American Society of Reproductive Medicine in Boston, and will add to growing research that links a couple’s lifestyle to their ability to conceive. In particular, the men examined in this study were all in relationships that were undergoing in-vitro fertilization treatments.
To determine sperm health, the researchers compared sperm cell size and shape—men who ate processed meat daily had 30 per cent fewer normal sperm cells than those who limited processed meat intake.”
So, is bacon alone a perpetrator of infertility? No. There are several studies out there suggesting things men can do to improve their fertility. But if researchers are able to come up with a list of lifestyle options that make better odds for couples struggling to conceive, then by all means, hold the bacon, and the jeers from the sidelines, too.
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