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Do you drink this much alcohol a week? It could be damaging your sperm*

*If you’re a man, obviously.

Image: Beer via Shutterstock

OTHERWISE HEALTHY MEN could be damaging the quality of their sperm by drinking alcohol, a new study has found.

BMJ Open reports today that a Danish study of 1,221 men found that even moderate alcohol intake can lower sperm quality.

The men were all aged between 18 and 28 and had undergone a medical exam between 2008 and 2012.

As part of their assessment, the military recruits were asked how much alcohol they drank in the week before their medical exam; whether this was typical; and how often they binge drank, defined as more than five units in one sitting, and had been drunk in the preceding month.

They were also asked to provide a sperm sample and a blood sample. On average, the men had drank 11 units of alcohol, around four pints of beer.

The analysis showed that after taking account of various influential factors, there was no strong link between sperm quality and either recent alcohol consumption or binge drinking in the preceding month.

But drinking alcohol in the preceding week was linked to changes in reproductive hormone levels, with the effects increasingly more noticeable the higher the tally of units.

Testosterone levels rose, while sex hormone binding globulin fell; similar associations were also evident for the number of times an individual had been drunk or had binge drunk in the preceding month.

The effects were most apparent among those who drank 25 or more units every week.

And total sperm counts were 33% lower, and the proportion of normal-looking sperm 51% lower, among those knocking back 40 units a week compared with those drinking 1-5.

Habitual drinking was associated with changes in reproductive hormone levels, although not as strongly as recent drinking, while abstinence was also linked to poorer sperm quality.

The researchers say that as an observational study, they can’t make judgements on cause and effect, but say that animal studies suggest a link between alcohol intake and sperm quality.

They say “it remains to be seen whether semen quality is restored if alcohol intake is reduced, but young men should be advised that high habitual alcohol intake may affect not only their general health, but also their reproductive health.”

Read: Another look at how alcohol can be more dangerous than heroin

Read: How much of a bottle of a €9 wine goes on taxes?

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