Male vegetarian fertility problems found in two studies comparing vegetarian and meat eating men, according to articles in The Times 20 October 2014 p9, and the Telegraph 20 October 2014. One study, conducted by a research team led by Eliza Orzylowska an obstetrician at the Seventh Day Adventist Loma Linda University Medical School, and presented to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, compared sperm numbers and sperm motility of 443 meat eaters compared with 26 vegetarians and five vegans. They found vegetarians and vegans averaged around 50 million sperm per ml compared with 70 million per ml for the meat eaters. The vegetarians also had significantly lower sperm motility, with only one third of the sperm being active, compared with 60% for the meat eaters.
Orzylowska summarised the results: “We found that diet does significantly affect sperm quality. Vegetarian and vegan diets were associated with much lower sperm counts than omnivorous diets”. She went on to say, “Although these people are not infertile, it is likely to play a factor in conception, particularly for couples who are trying to conceive naturally, the old fashioned way”.
Researchers suggest the causes were increased phyto-oestrogens in the diet of vegetarians who eat a lot of soy products and lack of Vitamin B12. Orzylowska commented: “The theory that we have come up with is that vegetarians are replacing meat with soy, which contains phytooestrogens and could be affecting fertility. For children who have grown up with those kind of diets, it may have impacted on sperm quality from puberty. It’s hard to tell people not to be vegetarians if they are trying to conceive, but I would caution against using soy, at least for 74 days beforehand, which is the time it takes for sperm to be replaced”.
The second study was conducted by researchers at Harvard University who looked at the sperm quality in 155 men who visited the Massachussetts General Fertility Centre between 2007 – 2012 and found the vegetarians were worse off. Those with the highest intake of fruit and vegetables had 70 per cent lower quality and 68 per cent lower sperm motility. They suspected the problem was the amount of pesticides that would have been consumed by the vegetarians. They calculated the level of pesticide absorption using a US national database which evaluates how much pesticide residue is expected to remain on various foods depending on how they are prepared, e.g. whether it is peeled (such as avocado or orange) or used whole. Jorge Chavarro, one of the researchers, explained: “We found men who had the highest intakes of fruit and vegetables high in pesticide residues tended to have lower sperm quality, specifically lower total normal count and mobile count.”
Editorial Comment: These findings are a reminder that we cannot go back to Eden. Man was originally created to be vegetarian, but the world has gone a long way downhill since then, and it is increasingly harder to find the right balance of nutrients. Firstly after God cursed the ground and every plant has been affected by that, and secondly, God gave man permission to eat meat after Noah’s flood had devastated the earth’s surface and changed the climate (Genesis 9). From then on plants would struggle to survive in the poorer soils and extreme variations in climate, and so cannot be as nutritious as they need to be.
The pesticide problem is actually the easiest to deal with as it can be (expensively) avoided by organic farming, but even the fact that we need to prevent pests from eating our crops is another reminder that we live in a world of broken ecology. So don’t aim for Eden, aim for the new heavens and new earth Jesus will make, and plan to take as many with you as possible! (Ref. diet, environment, nutrition, reproduction)
Evidence News vol. 14 No. 18
29 October 2013
Creation Research Australia