DNA Damage in 85% of Human Sperm




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"The doctor of the future will give no medicine, but will interest his patients in the care of the human frame, in diet and in the cause and prevention of disease."
- Thomas Edison


Low levels of vitamin C can lead to genetic damage in sperm. - Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 1991, 11003. 


Cell phone radiation damages sperm.


Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCB's) cause birth defects and cancer at concentrations of just a few parts per billion. PCB's have been found in 100% of sperm samples tested. Over a million tons of PCB's have been produced in the US. Is it a coincidence that testicular cancer has increased 50% in the past 20 years?


Fluoride in drinking water damages sperm.


See also:

The Demise of Human Sperm


Rich Murray: montrealgazette.com: Aitken:
DNA damage in 85% of human sperm 7.3.1 rmforall


Human Sperm In Dramatic Decline Scientists Warn
By Aaron Derfel     Montreal Gazette   7-3-1

Scientists from around the world are alarmed by a dramatic increase in genetically damaged human sperm - a trend that is not only causing infertility in men, but also childhood cancers in the offspring of those who can reproduce.

It's now estimated that up to 85 per cent of the sperm produced by a healthy male is DNA-damaged, a leading authority on the subject revealed yesterday at an international conference being held in Montreal.

"That's very unusual," said John Aitken, head of biological sciences at the University of Newcastle in Australia.

"If you were to take a rat or a mouse or a rabbit, usually more than 80 per cent of their sperm would be normal."

For the last 20 years, scientists have known about declining sperm counts. But researchers are now learning that the quality of human sperm is steadily eroding, and might be causing birth defects as well as brain cancer and leukemia in children.

Abnormal sperm is also being blamed for a global increase in testicular cancer - a disease that strikes men in their 30s. Scientists believe that when a DNA-damaged sperm fertilizes a woman's egg, it can trigger a mutation of a key gene in the embryo.

And even if men today can reproduce, their damaged sperm might lead to infertility in their male progeny, Aitken suggested. "You're likely to see lots of diseases that are related to poorer semen quality."

Scientists suspect a wide range of environmental causes for the abnormal sperm - from exposure to pesticides and heavy metals to electromagnetic radiation.

"We're all exposed to 10 times more electromagnetic radiation than our forefathers," Aitken said. "It's all the electrical appliances we use, including microwave phones."

There is a consensus in the scientific community that men who smoke cause damage to their sperm, and that this might be responsible for childhood cancers. "If you are a man and you smoke, your semen profile won't be obviously affected," Aitken said. "You'll still have lots of sperm swimming around and you'll be fertile. But the DNA in your sperm nucleus will be fragmented."

The average ejaculate of human sperm contains 80 million spermatazoa, each genetically programmed to fertilize a woman's egg. Scientists examining human sperm have discovered that not only are sperm counts on the decline, but that the vast majority of sperm is sluggish, poorly structured, their DNA fragmented and that they generate a lot of cellular waste called free radicals.

"Generally speaking, everything is bad with the sperm," Aitken said.

Fortunately for most couples, it's the undamaged or least damaged sperm that tends to fertilize the egg.

As a result of increasing male infertility, scientists have developed a new technique to help couples conceive. It's called Intra-Cytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI). In the lab, a technologist will take from the would-be father a single sperm, or even a cell that is on its way to becoming a sperm, and fertilize it in the test tube with the woman's egg. The resulting embryo is then transferred to the woman's uterus.

Dr. Keith Jarvi, of the University of Toronto-Mount Sinai Hospital, said the ICSI technique has revolutionized the treatment of male infertility. But he wondered about the health outcomes of the ICSI children.

That human sperm is of poorer quality than that of other mammals is not surprising. The human species is the only one that wears clothes, and healthy sperm need to be kept a couple of degrees cooler than the full body temperature. But clothing alone is not
responsible for the extent of abnormal human sperm, Aitken argued.

"Evidence of Deteriorating Semen Quality in the United Kingdom: Birth Cohort Study in 577 Men in Scotland Over 11 Years."
British Medical Journal  1996 vol. 312: 7029: 467-471.
Stewart Irvine, Elizabeth Cawood, David Richardson,
Eileen MacDonald & John Aitken

The 1998 Amoroso Lecture. The human spermatozoon-a cell in crisis?
Society for the Study of Fertility
Annual Meeting, University of Glasgow, UK
J Reprod Fertil 1999 Jan;115(1):1-7
Aitken RJ.
MRC Reproductive Biology Unit, Edinburgh, UK.

A great deal of evidence has accumulated in recent years to suggest that there has been a gradual increase in male reproductive pathology over the past 30-40 years, as evidenced by increased rates of testicular cancer and declining semen quality. The hypothesis is advanced that this phenomenon is causally related to the ability of male germ cells to generate reactive oxygen metabolites. When produced in low levels, such metabolites are thought to enhance sperm function by stimulating DNA compaction and promoting a redox-regulated cAMP-mediated pathway that is central to the induction of sperm capacitation. When produced in excessive amounts, the same metabolites stimulate DNA fragmentation and a loss of sperm function associated with peroxidative damage to the sperm plasma membrane. Free radical-induced mutations in the male germ line may also be involved in the aetiology of childhood cancer and recent increases in the incidence of seminoma. In light of these considerations, establishing the mechanisms for free radical generation by the male germ line and determining the factors that influence this activity are important objectives for future research in this area.
Publication Types:   Lectures   Review   Review, tutorial
PMID: 10341716

Andrologia 2000 Sep;32(4-5):195-208
Male reproductive health: cause for concern?
Irvine DS.  d.s.irvine@ed.ac.uk
MRC Human Reproductive Sciences Unit
Centre for Reproductive Biology, Edinburgh, UK.

A substantial body of evidence has accumulated in recent years that human semen quality may be deteriorating. This has been associated with evidence of other changes in male reproductive health, including increases in congenital malformations and testicular cancer in humans, and similar problems in wildlife. Unfortunately, the evidence remains inconclusive. It has been suggested that these changes may be due to environmental xeno-oestrogens acting during development. Although there is now a large quantity of data indicating that this is a plausible hypothesis, evidence of causality, rather than association, remains to be provided. The potential importance of these changes for human health is considerable and urgent research is required to clarify the situation.
Publication Types: Review  Review, academic  PMID: 11021510

J Androl 2000 Jan-Feb;21(1):33-44
DNA integrity in human spermatozoa:
relationships with semen quality.
Irvine DS, Twigg JP, Gordon EL, Fulton N,
Milne PA, Aitken RJ.   d.s.irvine@edinburgh.ac.uk
Centre for Reproductive Biology, Edinburgh, Scotland.

The literature contains conflicting evidence regarding the existence of DNA damage in spermatozoa from infertile male patients. To examine this phenomenon, we have studied ejaculated spermatozoa from normozoospermic semen donors and from a group of the unselected male partners of couples attending an infertility clinic for initial investigation. Classical semen analysis according to World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines was undertaken with computer-assisted sperm analysis (CASA). Spermatozoa were prepared by sequential washing and centrifugation and were analyzed for DNA fragmentation using three assays: 
1) a single-cell gel electrophoresis (comet) assay,
2) in situ nick translation with prior chemical decondensation (ISNT-decondensed), and
3) in situ nick translation without prior chemical decondensation (ISNT-condensed). 
In addition, reactive oxygen species (ROS) generation by spermatozoa was measured, and seminal plasma was analyzed for its total reactive antioxidant potential (TRAP).

When the donor and patient groups were compared, the latter had lower levels of semen quality and higher levels of DNA damage, which was particularly apparent using the comet assay. Highly significant negative correlations were observed between DNA fragmentation, detected by all three assays, and semen quality, particularly sperm concentration. In addition, multiple regression analysis indicated that other attributes of semen quality, such as sperm movement and ROS generation, were also related to DNA damage. We conclude that a significant proportion of infertile men have elevated levels of DNA damage in their ejaculated spermatozoa.  PMID: 10670517

Robert John Aitken    Sept. 4 1947
Department     Biological Sci/School Biol& Chem Sc/SCI&M
+61 2 4921 5700   Fax    +61 2 4921 6923
bihod@cc.newcastle.edu.au   jaitken@mail.newcastle.edu.au

Current Position
1998  Professor & Head of Discipline of Biological Sciences
University of Newcastle, NSW  Australia
Visiting Positions     University of Cambridge

Journal Editorial     On Editorial Boards for 8 International Journals

Membership of Professional Organisations
World Health Organisation
Medical Research Council Reproductive Biology Unit
Centre for Reproductive Biology, Edinburgh
Royal Society of Edinburgh
Member of six Professional Societies
Committee Member of three Professional Societies
Member of the Organising committee of twelve Scientific Meetings
Publications     Over 580 publications, including 2 Books,
77 Chapters in Books, 203 Full Journal  Papers,
108 Refereed Conference Papers, 193 Symposium Presentations

Study shows a decline in the number of male births

In an article in The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), researchers from the World Resources Institute in Washington, DC, show that the number of male births in several industrialized nations has declined significantly in the past few decades. Devra Lee Davis and colleagues examined data from Denmark, the Netherlands, Canada and the US, and found similar declines in the sex ratio, or the number of male births per female births, in these countries. For example, from 1970-1990 in the US, the reported decline of 1 male birth per 1,000 births resulted in 38,000 fewer male births. And in Canada, the decline of 2.2 male births per 1,000 births resulted in 8,600 fewer boys being born during the same period. They say this change may be tied to increases in male reproductive health problems. "Such small changes... can have profound implications for large populations, where hundreds of thousands or millions of births occur each year," they write. They explain that several factors influence whether a fetus, which starts out female, becomes male. Exposure to hormones, older age of fathers, use of fertility drugs, hepatitis and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma may all reduce the proportion of male fetuses. Workplace and environmental factors such as "...exposure to smelting operations, pesticides, inorganic borates, lead, solvents, (and) alcohol" have also been linked to reduced male populations. In addition to the concerns about the reduced male birth rates, the authors note that disorders of the male reproductive tract, such as hypospadias and cryptorchidism are becoming more common. They suggest that prenatal exposures may affect men's overall health and development. "The potential repercussions of conditions that may alter the ratio of the sexes at birth should be considered a matter of utmost concern," they write.

JAMA 1998 Apr 1;279(13):1018-23
Comment in:
JAMA. 1998 Oct 7;280(13):1139-40; discussion 1140-1
JAMA. 1998 Oct 7;280(13):1139; discussion 1140-1
JAMA. 1998 Oct 7;280(13):1140-1
Reduced ratio of male to female births in several industrial countries: a sentinel health indicator?   devra@wri.org
Davis DL, Gottlieb MB, Stampnitzky JR.
World Resources Institute, Washington, DC 20006, USA.

3m boost to solve mystery of Declining Sperm

The fall in sperm counts and the discovery of gender-bender fish in Britain's rivers are to be investigated in a 3m government-funded research programme. The Environment Minister Michael Meacher, unveiled the project at the European Union Environment and Transport Ministers meeting in Chester on Saturday. "I think we are all aware and worried about declining sperm counts, increases in testicular cancer, birth defects in baby boys and reports of the effects on wildlife, especially fish," he said. Mr Meacher said there were indications of hormone disruption in fish due to chemical pollution and he pledged to involve the chemical industry in an investigation. Earlier this year the Environment Agency pollution watchdog warned that a high proportion of male fish in nearly all of Britain's rivers are carrying eggs - something that should be done only by female fish. This is a problem particularly where fish swim near sewage outlets from heavy industrial plants. Mr Meacher said endocrine disruption was a very important issue, referring to the chemicals which some scientists believe are interfering with the body's hormones. "What we have done today is focus the attention of the European Community on this," he said. "We are all in a position to take stock and come back with proposals that meet genuine public concern." The minister said the research would try and find out whether there is evidence of change to marine and male reproductive health and seek to identify possible causes. The EU wants to speed up work in this area and possibly look at drawing up a directive on it in future. Source BBC NEWS SITE

UK Dental warning for pregnant women

Dentists are being advised not to give mothers-to-be fillings made out of mercury amalgam unless absolutely necessary. The warning from the Department of Health has been prompted by fears that the mercury could get into the bloodstream and be passed to the unborn child and cause it medical problems. Scientists have advised that there is a theoretical risk of poisoning. But the government is stressing that there is no hard evidence that the fillings can cause harm. The UK's Deputy Chief Medical Officer, Dr Jeremy Metters, says the warning is just a precautionary step. In a letter to dentists, he wrote: "There is no evidence of any harm to a foetus but, until further research is carried out, it may be prudent to avoid, where clinically reasonable, the placement or removal of amalgam fillings during pregnancy." The government's action was welcomed by west London dentist Robert Hempleman. He wants ministers to go further and have mercury fillings phased out altogether. "Mercury is a highly toxic poison," he said. "A growing number of researchers from across the world have linked it as a possible contributory cause - if not a main factor - in a series of modern diseases, such as chronic fatigue syndrome, Alzheimer's, multiple sclerosis and general debilitating diseases."

Rich Murray, MA    Room For All    rmforall@earthlink.net
1943 Otowi Road, Santa Fe  NM  USA  87505   505-986-9103


Source of cartoon http://www.naturalnews.com/029352_sperm_quality_infertiliy.html


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