Milk and Cheese: Birth Control for Men?

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A new study by Harvard links the daily consumption of three parts of dairy products (milk, cheese and ice cream) to reduce fertility in men.

Instead of reaching for the condom, try drinking a few glasses of milk. According to a new study from the Harvard School of Public Health, men who consume three parts of milk daily suffer from poor quality sperm.

Although many fertility studies focus on the impact of diet on women’s ability to conceive, there is growing concern about the impact of men’s lifestyle and nutrition on their ability to produce healthy sperm.

The Harvard scientists analyzed the diets of 189 healthy men aged 19 to 25 who participated in at least one and a half hours of exercise per week. The men filled out questionnaires where they recorded the frequency with which they ate dairy products, fruits, meat and other foods. An ounce of cheese (28 grams), a teaspoon of cream, a spoonful of ice cream or a glass of whole milk fat are part of the dairy products.

The researchers also analyzed the shape and speed of sperm in men and found that people who ate more than three whole servings of milk per day had a sperm quality 25 percent lower than those who ate less dairy products.

Researchers believe that estrogen, the female hormone found naturally in cow’s milk, is responsible for the ability of incomplete men to have children. “The association with high levels of genital hormones that occur naturally in commercial dairy products can be attributed,” said Miriam Avishi, a researcher at Harvard University and lead author of the study.

The possibility that pesticides found in milk may also affect male fertility. “The presence of other compounds in dairy products such as pesticides, chlorinated pollutants and heavy metals can also be a reason for this relationship,” Afish added.

However, Alan Bassey, MD, a fertility expert at the University of Sheffield and president of the British Fertility Society, told the Daily Mail that men should not stop taking dairy products in response to the study. It emphasizes that, while the quality and fertility of sperm may decrease, the consumption of dairy products ultimately does not affect the ability to conceive. “Despite its decline, it is not in the red zone,” he said.

Previous studies have linked male fertility with excess carbohydrates and obesity.

The study of dairy products was presented at the 68th Annual Meeting of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine this week. Other research discussed at the meeting shows a link between diet and in vitro fertilization in women, especially because low carbohydrate intake seems to improve laboratory success.

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