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Study: Men exposed to environmental chemicals less likely to get their partners pregnant

Men''s health

(NaturalNews) Most people want a clean environment, both for the here and now, and to pass along to their children. But what most don't know, is that an environment free of chemicals is vital to ensure that there is someone around to pass the earth to.

As reported by Healthy Child, it's common knowledge that when a woman is pregnant she must pay particular attention to her diet and lifestyle, because what she eats, drinks and inhales follows a direct pipeline to the growing baby. That said, new research now indicates that men's exposure to harmful chemicals also plays a very important role, even before conception.

The study, published in the peer-reviewed journal Andrology in April, found that concentrations of heavy metals, phthalates and chronic organic pollutants in a man's body have a greater effect on the time it takes for a couple to conceive than do concentrations of those chemical elements in a woman.

Only two chemicals affected men and women

Researchers analyzed information and data from the Longitudinal Investigation of Fertility and the Environment (LIFE) study at the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, for a study that measured the relationship between chemical pollutants in the environment and fertility rates. Scientists tracked 501 couples for as long as a year as they tried to conceive, recording factors like time-to-pregnancy, infertility, miscarriages, birth size and weight, and other factors.

Led by Germaine Buck Louis of the institute, researchers measured amounts of various chemicals in blood and urine samples taken from both partners. They found that male exposures were tied to as much as a 30 percent reduction in "couple fecundity," as was assessed according to the amount of time it took the couple to become pregnant.

The most problematic chemicals, researchers discovered, were lead, PCB, some phthalates and benzophenones. The findings were supported by earlier laboratory and observational studies that indicated that men with higher exposures to contaminants in the environment produced lower-quality sperm.

Scientists found that only two of the 86 chemicals studied – both of which were PCBs – negatively affected the reproductive systems of both men and women.

As further reported by Healthy Child:

Each of the couples in the LIFE study eventually became pregnant, and for many, the road to conception can be long, paved with a variety of obstacles such as family history, parental age and even stress. The study's findings emphasize the importance of helping both parents – not just the mom – avoid harmful chemicals that can stymie healthy fertility and pregnancies.

Avoid these things

From the research came some recommendations that scientists believe will reduce the difficulty some couples face in conceiving, and which are important for both parents:

-- Since lead enters our bodies from a variety of sources, including water, cosmetics, paint and toys – and it is not safe at any level – it is best to avoid as many possible avenues of contamination as you can. That would include filtering water and having your home examined to see if it contains any old paint (paint used to contain a LOT of lead).

-- Phthalates – industrial chemicals that are added to plastics, solvents and artificial fragrances – have been tied to problems with the male reproductive system and birth defects. As such, men should avoid them, and that can be done by not storing or microwaving foods in plastic; buying wooden toys for your kids; and not buying any products that contain artificial fragrances. There are databases online to help you avoid unsafe cosmetics and to help you clean naturally (here and here.)

-- PCBs, which are considered to be probable human carcinogens by the Environmental Protection Agency, are everywhere, and are the result of massive use in manufacturing and industry beginning in the 1930s, until they were finally banned in 1976. Today, PCBs find their way into our bodies mostly by what we eat – especially the fatty tissues of meat. It is therefore best to cut back on red meat, trim fat from all meat and fish and choose fresh fish when you can. It is also important to include organic superfoods that you know are free of heavy metals in your diet.




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