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'Gender-Bending' Chemical in Food Tins May Cut Male Fertility

Daily Mail,  Aug 5, 2010

A ‘gender bending’ chemical in food and drinks containers could be behind rising male infertility, scientists say.

Men with high levels of Bisphenol A (BPA) in their bodies are more likely to have low sperm counts, according to a study. BPA is widely used to harden plastics and is found in baby bottles, CD cases, plastic knives and forks and the lining of food and drink cans. The chemical mimics the female sex hormone oestrogen and interferes with the way hormones are processed by the body.

Scientists have now discovered it could be lined to poor sperm quality and concentration. Professor John Meeker, who led the study at the University of Michigan in the U.S., said: "Much of the focus for BPA is on the exposures in utero (in the womb) or in early life, which is of course extremely important, but this suggests exposure may also be a concern for adults."

In one of the first human studies, Professor Meeker and co-author Russ Hauser, from the Harvard School of Public Health, recruited 190 men through a fertility clinic. The researchers compared the levels of BPA in urine samples with the men’s sperm quality and concentration. They also looked for signs of DNA damage in their sperm.

Men with the highest levels of BPA had sperm concentrations 23 per cent lower than those with the least.

"The results also suggested a 10 per cent increase in sperm DNA damage," said Professor Meeker.

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