View Full Version : Vegetarianism and Male Fertility in the Presence of Environmental Pollutants

May 31st, 2007, 09:18 AM

Various chemicals, such as pesticides, PCBs, and phthalate esters (PEs), and other pollutants are believed to have a harmful effect on menís fertility. A study in India examined environmental factors that could lead to infertility. Twenty-one men who were infertile for no apparent reason were compared with 32 men with normal fertility. PCBs and PEs were found in the semen of the infertile men but not in the semen of the fertile men. These results suggest that contaminants present in the environment may lead to a deterioration of sperm count, motility (ability to move), and fertilizing ability.

Among infertile men, levels of PCBs and PEs were highest in urban fish eaters and lowest in rural vegetarians. Rural fish eaters and urban vegetarians had intermediate levels. The higher levels of these substances found in fish eaters are probably due to eating fatty fish contaminated with PCBs and PEs. Urban residents are exposed to PCBs and PEs in the environment due to industrial wastes. Even rural vegetarians can eat plant foods that have been contaminated with PCBs and PEs from the polluted soil or irrigation water. While a vegetarian diet cannot prevent exposure to pollutants in the environment, vegetarians in this study appeared to have lower levels of these harmful substances.

Rozati R, Reddy PP, Redanna P, Mujitaba R. 2002.
Role of environmental estrogens in the deterioration of male factor fertility. Fertil Steril 78:1187-94.