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It's not all bad news at breakfast: fish can kipper your sperm count up

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Swap the breakfast bacon for kippers, gents, because the bad news is that bacon – along with other processed meats – is associated with poor semen quality.

If you can keep your processed meat intake below an average of the equivalent of a rasher per day of bacon and still retain your will to live, you might manage 30 per cent more normal sperm than someone whose breakfast rasher is the precursor to a ham-and-salami lunch.

Thankfully, the small sample size of a study just presented at the IFFS / ASRM* meeting in Boston might give bacon-lovers a get-out-of-jail card for a while, at least until a bigger study falls one way or the other. Moreover, it should be noted that the study members were already “subfertile”, since the study was drawn from people presenting at a fertility clinic.

The results are still worrying. Of the 156 men who provided 364 semen samples as part of the study by the Harvard School of Public Health's Dr Myriam Afeiche, processed meat intake was, as the study puts it, “negatively related to sperm morphology”.

Remembering that (in contradiction to the Monty Python classic “Every Sperm is Sacred” from The Meaning of Life) humans actually produce a lot of wasted wrigglers: the low-bacon sample (sorry) produced 7.2 per cent morphologically-normal sperm cells, while the hog swallowers delivered up just 5.5 per cent normal cells. As already noted, both these figures are, however, below the 15 per cent of normal cells regarded as the more general average in the community.

On the other hand, white fish intake is associated with a higher proportion of normal sperm in the total sample, while dark fish intake (and yes, as far as Vulture South can tell, kippers count as dark fish) increases sperm count overall. ®

* You probably know the IFFS and ASRM are the International Federation of Fertility Societies and the American Society for Reproductive Medicine. ®

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