(JNS.org) According to an Israeli study released Tuesday, the sperm count among men from the U.S., Europe, Australia and New Zealand has dropped by more than 50 percent in the last 40 years.
“Given the importance of sperm counts for male fertility and human health, this study is an urgent wake-up call for researchers and health authorities around the world to investigate the causes of the sharp ongoing drop in sperm count, with the goal of prevention,” said Dr. Hagai Levine, who co-led the study at the Hebrew University-Hadassah Braun School of Public Health and Community Medicine in Jerusalem.
The study, published in the Human Reproduction Update journal, conducted a comprehensive meta-analysis of data collected from 1973-2011 among Western men. Sperm concentration declined more than 50 percent, with no evidence that the trend is ending, according to the study.
“By screening 7,500 studies and conducting a meta-regression analysis on 185 studies, the researchers found a 52.4 percent decline in sperm concentration and a 59.3 percent drop in total sperm count among men from North America, Europe, Australia and New Zealand who were not selected based on their fertility status,” the study said.
Describing the study as a “canary in the coal mine,” Levine said low sperm count is not only a concern for male fertility, but also for the general health of men, since evidence links poor semen to higher hospitalization risk and even death.
By contrast, there has been no significant sperm count decline seen in men from South America, Asia and Africa, although fewer studies have been conducted on those continents.
While the new study did not examine the underlying causes of low sperm count, previous studies have cited prenatal chemical exposure, adult pesticide exposure, smoking, stress and obesity.