What is behind the purported link between poultry consumption and anovulatory infertility?
Image thanks to Jamiesrabbits.
In fact, everyone, and pregnant women in particular, may want to stay away from all meat. In the first recorded volume of my Latest in Nutrition series back in 2007, we learned that meat is so packed with sex steroid hormones that when pregnant women eat meat it may affect the development of their sons genital organs while still in the womb, such that when they grow up they have decreased fertility. When moms eat meat during pregnancy it “may alter a man’s testicular development in utero and adversely affect his reproductive capacity.”
But in this study they just looked at beef, and we know that all meat has these hormones, and they only looked at the fertility of the next generation. So in effect this study showed eating meat may lead to fewer grandchildren, but what your own fertility? Is there any direct effect of meat consumption on fertility in women? Fact, or fiction?
Fact, and not just any study, but the famous Harvard Nurses study, which followed 18,000 women trying to get pregnant for 8 years and measured what they ate. They found that meat intake was in fact associated with infertility. Adding just a single serving of meat per day was associated with a 30% greater risk of anovulatory infertility, meaning the meat consumption appeared to interfere with ovulation, and this increased risk was due mostly to the intake of poultry.
To break it down: eat a single serving of any meat and you increase your infertility risk 30%, and red meat increases risk 40%, but just a single serving of chicken, half a chicken breast a day, and women increase their infertility risk more than 50%—more than bacon and hot dogs!
Now while animal protein was associated with increased risk of infertility, consuming protein from vegetable sources appeared to have the opposite effect, improving fertility. The researchers aren’t sure why, but they think it might have something to do with the fact that animal protein intake increases the levels of a growth hormone called IGF-1, which has been linked not only to infertility but to cancer. Whereas eating veggie protein doesn’t seem to have that adverse effect.
In summary: they concluded that by replacing animal sources of protein, particularly chicken, with vegetable sources of protein—like beans—may reduce the risk of infertility because of anovulation, or failure to ovulate.
To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring watch the above video. This is just an approximation of the audio contributed by veganmontreal.
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Please feel free to post any ask-the-doctor type questions here in the comments section and I’d be happy to try to answer them. And check out theother videos on hormones. Also, there are 1,449 other subjects covered in the rest of my videos--please feel free to explore them as well!