Science : Are we in a male fertility death spiral ?
Environmental Health Sciences, July 26, 2017.
Margaret Atwood’s 1985 book, The Handmaid’s Tale, played out in a world with declining human births because pollution and sexually transmitted disease were causing sterility.
Does fiction anticipate reality? Two new research papers add scientific weight to the possibility that pollution, especially endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs), are undermining male fertility.
The first, published Tuesday, is the strongest confirmation yet obtained that human sperm concentration and count are in a long-term decline: more than 50 percent from 1973 to 2013, with no sign that the decline is slowing.
The second, published last week by different authors, offers a possible explanation. It found that early life exposure of male mouse pups to a model environmental estrogen, ethinyl estradiol, causes mistakes in development in the reproductive tract that will lead to lower sperm counts.
But there is much more to this study, led by Washington State University doctoral student Tegan Horan and published in the journal PLoS Genet. The senior author on the paper, Washington State University’s Distinguished Professor of Molecular Biosciences, Patricia Hunt, is one of the world’s leading authorities on how endocrine disrupting chemicals harm the development of sperm and eggs.
What makes this study unique is that it examined what happened when three successive generations of males were exposed—instead of just looking only at the first. . .