Is it possible dietary choices may affect sperm counts, genital development of boys, sexual function in men, and risk of prostate cancer, among other men’s health issues?
The ongoing global drop in male fertility may be associated with saturated fat intake and lack of sufficient fruits and vegetables. Sex steroid hormones in meat, eggs, and dairy may help explain the link between saturated fat intake and declining sperm counts. Cholesterol may also play a role. We’ve known for decades that men with high cholesterol levels appear to show abnormalities in their spermiograms, decreased sperm concentration, about a third of the normal sperm movement, and half the normal sperm shape, and, in the largest study to date, higher levels of cholesterol in the blood was associated with a significantly lower percentage of normal sperm. Cholesterol was also associated with reductions in semen volume and live sperm count. These results highlight the role of fats in the blood in male fertility. Though a healthier diet may be associated with healthier sperm counts, cholesterol-lowering statin drugs did not seem to help.
Erectile dysfunction (ED), the recurrent or persistent inability to attain or maintain an erection for satisfactory sexual performance, reportedly is present in up to 30 million men in the United States and approximately 100 million men worldwide. The reason may be due to our artery-clogging diet. Erectile dysfunction and our number-one killer, coronary artery disease, may actually be two manifestations of the same disease—inflamed, clogged, and crippled arteries—regardless of which organs are affected.
What if we ate a diet chock-full of plant foods? A compilation of case-control studies concluded that cow’s milk consumption is a risk factor for prostate cancer, and the same outcome was found for cohort studies. A 2015 meta-analysis found that high intakes of dairy products—milk, low-fat milk, and cheese, but not nondairy sources of calcium—appear to increase total prostate cancer risk.
Harvard University researchers recruited more than a thousand men with early-stage prostate cancer and followed them for several years. Compared with men who rarely ate eggs, men who ate even less than a single egg a day appeared to have twice the risk of prostate cancer progression, such as metastasizing into the bones. The only thing potentially worse for prostate cancer than eggs was poultry: Men with more aggressive cancer who regularly ate chicken and turkey had up to four times the risk of prostate cancer progression.
Image Credit: Ibrakovic / Thinkstock. This image has been modified.
Popular Videos for Men's Health
All Videos for Men's Health
The Efficacy and Safety of Creatine for High Homocysteine
Those on a healthy plant-based diet with elevated homocysteine levels despite taking sufficient vitamin B12 may want to consider taking a gram a day of contaminant-free creatine.
Vegetarians and Stroke Risk Factors—Animal Protein?
Might animal protein-induced increases in the cancer-promoting grown hormone IGF-1 help promote brain artery integrity?
Vegetarians and Stroke Risk Factors—Saturated Fat?
How can we explain the drop in stroke risk as the Japanese diet became Westernized by eating more meat and dairy?
Stainless Steel or Cast Iron: Which Cookware Is Best? Is Teflon Safe?
What’s the best type of pots and pans to use?
The Effects of Marijuana on Fertility & Pregnancy
Pregnant and breastfeeding women should probably be advised to either decrease, or where possible, cease cannabis use entirely. And, couples trying to conceive may also want to consider cutting down.
Do the Health Benefits of Coffee Apply to Everyone?
Genetic differences in caffeine metabolism may explain the Jekyll and Hyde effects of coffee.
Dairy & Cancer
How do we explain the increased risk of prostate cancer but the decreased risk of colon cancer associated with dairy consumption?
Benefit of Dates for Colon Health
Seven dates a day for three weeks are put to the test in a randomized controlled trial.
Oxidized Cholesterol 27HC May Explain 3 Breast Cancer Mysteries
Oxidized cholesterol (concentrated in products containing eggs, processed meat, and parmesan cheese) has cancer-fueling estrogenic effects on human breast cancer.
Eggs & Breast Cancer
How few eggs should we eat to reduce the risk of prostate, ovarian, colon, and breast cancer?
The Best Advice on Diet and Cancer
What the best available balance of evidence says right now about what to eat and avoid to reduce your risk of cancer.
Does Tea Tree Oil Have Hormonal Side Effects?
Do the estrogenic effects of tea tree oil get absorbed through the skin?