Study vilifying 'fat' as cause of low sperm count in men flawed

Saturday, March 24, 2012 by: Jonathan Benson, staff writer
Tags: dietary fat, low sperm count, study

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(NaturalNews) The myth that all saturated fat is harmful to health continues to make the rounds, as a new study published in the journal Human Reproduction equates saturated fat with "junk food," and claims that eating it reduces men's sperm count. But this study, which is being repeated throughout the echo chambers of the mainstream media, is nothing short of erroneous pseudoscience predicated on outdated medical opinions.

For their study, researchers from Harvard Medical School in Boston, Mass., surveyed 99 men about their dietary habits, and compared overall fat intake to the men's sperm counts and sperm concentrations. They concluded that those men who consumed the most fats had a 43 percent lower sperm count, and 38 percent lower sperm concentration, compared to men who consumed the least fats -- and the most significant culprit, they claim, was saturated fats.

But the majority of the men that participated in this relatively small-scale study were either overweight or obese at the onset of the study, a crucial factor that plays a significant role in sperm count and concentration. Additionally, the study makes no differentiation between the types of fats consumed and from what types of foods they originated, another important factor that must be parsed when looking at fat consumption and overall health.

Being overweight or obese lowers sperm count

A 2010 study published in the journal Fertility and Sterility found that the more overweight or obese a man is, the more likely he is to have lower sperm count and less mobile sperm, regardless of the foods he consumes while in this overweight or obese state ( In other words, higher sperm quality appears largely dependent on having a healthy fat-to-muscle ratio to begin with.

Since 71 percent of the men that participated in the recent study on fat consumption were either overweight or obese when the study began, the end findings are largely skewed. The lower sperm counts and concentrations observed were likely a result of most of the participants already being either overweight or obese at the study's start, for which their overall fat consumption after that may have only played a cursory role in affecting their sperm health.

Source and type of fats consumed makes all the difference in health

The study also makes no clarification about the source and types of fats consumed, and in what ratios they were consumed. Instead, the researchers made a short-sighted, general classification of "saturated fat" that they claimed was primarily responsible for the decreased sperm quality, and jumped to the unfounded conclusion that saturated fat is responsible for reducing sperm quality.

But saturated fat from coconut oil or grass-fed beef, for instance, is quite different from the saturated fat found in industrial feedlot-based meats or conventional butter. There is no single category known as "saturated fat," in other words, as composition of various saturated fats is greatly affected by their source and type.

Dr. Dwight Lundell, a veteran heart surgeon, recently wrote a great piece on saturated fat and its role in maintaining vibrant health that you can access here:

The deeply-entrenched, anti-saturated fat ideology that prevails today must come to an end if society is ever to make headway in reversing the growing chronic disease epidemic. And this starts by consciously reevaluating most of what we have long been told about fats, the vast majority of which is simply false.

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