Soda May Lower Sperm Count
Soda May Lower Sperm Count
Is Soda Hurting Your Fertility?
By Justine van der Leun
New research out of Denmark shows that men who drink large amounts of cola have lower sperm counts than those who don’t and raises the question: Does soda hurt your swimmers?
To study the effect of caffeine on sperm values, university researchers in Copenhagen looked at 2,554 Danish army recruits, all of whom were males around the age of 18. The recruits got their caffeine from a variety of sources, including coffee, tea, chocolate and soda. Those who got their caffeine from coffee, tea and chocolate produced normal amounts of sperm. Those who drank moderate amounts of soda also produced normal amounts of sperm. However, the recruits that drank a huge amount of soda found their sperm quality diminished. Those who didn’t drink lots of soda had an average sperm count of 181 million, while those who did had an average count of 121 million.
But men don’t need to pass up the pop just yet.
Other factors were probably at play. Because the study was classified as an observational study, researchers did not set up a control group. They also did not follow subjects to test their ability to impregnate a woman or look at their lifestyles. Instead, they merely looked at semen quality and found a link between high soft drink consumption and lower sperm count. Caffeine in general, however, did not have any significant impact on sperm.
Most likely, the soda-glugging recruits had unhealthy lifestyles that affected their sperm. These men did not just drink a couple cups of cola every day. Instead, they were consuming more than 14 half-liter bottles of cola a week, which is the equivalent of drinking nearly two Big Gulps every single day. Though their diets were not studied, researchers suspected that they were not rich in greens, whole grains and lean protein.
"If those guys were drinking more than 14 half liter bottles a week, you have to consider how much pizza they were eating," says AOL Health's Men's Health Specialist, Dr. Abraham Morgentaler, the director of Men’s Health Boston, an associate clinical professor of urology at Harvard Medical School and the author of "Testosterone for Life: Recharge Your Vitality, Sex Drive, Muscle Mass, and Overall Health."
Morgentaler notes that though the soda-addicted recruits had lowered sperm counts, their 121 million still fell in the range of adequate for fertility. They also probably didn’t feel any difference. Men with lowered sperm counts see no waning in the amount of fluid they produce, nor do they suffer from a lowered libido.
Currently, there is no solid evidence that caffeine is bad for fertility, and the study supported this lack of evidence, since the coffee and tea drinkers weren't affected.
Male fertility is generally known to be damaged most significantly by obesity, though nobody is sure why. Some suspect it may be linked to hormones, since obese men have lower testosterone levels. Men who want to up their sperm concentration should also stay away from recreational drugs, excess alcohol and high temperatures (a soak in the hot tub lowers sperm count). But they can still order a cup of soda without consequence.
"The bottom line on a study like this is that it’s interesting," says Morgentaler. "The explanation isn’t necessarily what it looks like. It may just mean that people who drink huge amounts of cola may not be getting as good nutrition or taking healthy lifestyle as those who drink less."