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Pollution May Be Lowering Your Sperm Count, Scientists Warn

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The perks of living in one of the UK's bustling cities are many, but the convenience of semi-reliable public transport and a half-decent Just Eat radius comes at a cost to your health – including your fertility, according to a new scientific study.

The research, published in Environmental Health Perspectives, showed that air pollution lower the sperm counts of mice by causing inflammation in the brain. And the scientists who conducted the study believe the same mechanism could be true for humans.

It's known that the brain has "a direct line" to our reproductive organs, which influences things like sperm count, according to the University of Maryland. This research "connects the dots" on how breathing polluted air harms your fertility. (continued below)


It's not all bad news, though. In the study, the scientists found that a specific kind of neuron – typically associated with sleep cycle and obesity – was responsible for the reduced sperm count due to air pollution. When they removed an inflammation marker called IKK2 from the neuron, those mice maintained their sperm counts.

“Our findings showed that the damage due to air pollution — at least to the sperm count — could be remedied by removing a single inflammation marker in the brains of mice, suggesting that we may be able to develop therapies that could prevent or reverse the damaging effects of air pollution on fertility,” said lead study author Zhekang Ying, PhD, Assistant Professor of Medicine at University of Maryland School of Medicine (UMSOM).

Given that around 92 per cent of the world population live in areas where the level of pollution in the air exceeds the minimum safety standards set out by the World Health Organisation, this scientific discovery could potentially revolutionise the sexual health of billions of men over the years to come.

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