Mass Spectrometry & Spectroscopy

What's Behind the Massive Sperm Count Drop?

Aug 10 2017 Comments 0

Thought the zombie apocalypse and a Planet of the Apes style uprising were causes for concern? Think again. According to experts, a global drop in male sperm counts could wipe out the human race in a matter of centuries.

Drawing on almost 200 studies, researchers claim that sperm counts in North America, Europe, Australia and New Zealand appear to have halved over the past 40 years. If they continue to fall at current rates researchers warn that humans could eventually become extinct.

A toxic environment

Lead researcher and expert epidemiologist Dr Hagai Levine has openly admitted that he’s "very worried" about the future, spotlighting both environmental conditions and toxic chemicals as key culprits.   

"If we will not change the ways that we are living and the environment and the chemicals that we are exposed to, I am very worried about what will happen in the future," he says. "Eventually we may have a problem, and with reproduction in general, and it may be the extinction of the human species."

Smoking, obesity and toxic exposure

So what’s causing the decline? While the findings definitely aren’t conclusive, experts cite smoking and obesity as two of the biggest factors that could be contributing to declining sperm counts. There’s also concern surrounding exposure to chemicals used in pesticides and plastics, as well as links to stress, diet and even watching too much TV.

The link between diet and fertility is no secret, with countless studies exploring the concept. One of the biggest revelations was a recent 2014 Harvard study, which revealed men who consumed a large amount of processed meat had a 23% lower sperm count than those who avoided foods like hamburgers, hot dogs, salami and bacon.

In the face of the alarming results Levine insists that there’s an urgent need to find out why sperm counts are decreasing, and start looking at ways to reverse the trend.

"We must take action - for example, better regulation of man-made chemicals - and we must continue our efforts on tackling smoking and obesity."

Over the past decade advances in mass spectrometry have vastly improved the general understanding of sperm composition and function. Held at the Indiana Convention Center, the ‘65th ASMS Conference on Mass Spectrometry and Allied Topics’ offers a glimpse at one of the industry’s most prestigious events.

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