Food tins could lower sperm count

Beans might be good for your heart but there's also a chance that eating them could result in men having low sperm counts. Scientists believe that a chemical found in food and drinks containers could be responsible for rising male infertility.

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Bisphenol A (BPA) is widely manufactured for hardening plastics and can be found in baby bottles, CD cases, plastic knives and forks and the lining of cans used for food and drink. Around 2.2 million tonnes of BPA is produced every year.

Although it has been shown to be safe in some studies on animals, earlier this year Denmark decided to ban the chemical's use in food and drink containers for children under three years old. Canada and three American states have also placed bans.

BPA mimics oestrogen, the female sex hormone, and can obstruct the processing of hormones in the body. It has been linked to obesity, diabetes, breast cancer, liver damage and fertility problems. And scientists have now found that it could be responsible for low sperm count.

A recent study carried out at the University of Michigan revealed that men who have high BPA levels in their bodies tended to have lower sperm counts.

The study, led by Professor John Meeker, tested urine and sperm samples from 190 men for BPA levels and signs of DNA damage in sperm.

They found that men with high levels of BPA had 23 per cent lower sperm counts than men with low BPA levels.

Professor Meeker said: "The results also suggested a 10 per cent increase in sperm DNA damage."

However, the findings, published in Reproductive Toxicology, are not conclusive as the scientists stressed the importance of carrying out further tests on larger sample sizes.

Elizabeth Salter Green, of the Chemicals, Health And Environment Monitoring Trust said the study was "another nail in the coffin" for BPA and further evidence that it should be banned.

She added: "There are now hundreds of research papers that indicate BPA is not good for our health, linking exposure to fertility problems, cancer, diabetes and obesity."

Will this research put you off buying food and drink products in cans? Leave a comment and share your thoughts.