03 Mar Epidemiologist Warns Falling Sperm Counts are Threat to Human Survival
Humanity is facing remarkably transforming difficult times. Not only are we faced with COVID-19 and a climate crisis, but our existence is believed to be threatened by falling sperm counts because of endocrine-disrupting chemicals, according to an epidemiologist with more than four decades of experience in the field.
“Chemicals in our environment and other lifestyle factors in our modern age have harmed our reproductive health to the extent that, in the future, it may not be possible for most people to reproduce in the old-fashioned way,” specified Shanna Swan, an environmental and reproductive epidemiologist at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York.
Sperm counts among men in North America, Europe, Australia, and New Zealand declined nearly 60 percent from 1973 to 2011, according to a meta-analysis in 2017. And recently reported by Swan, half of the men in these countries will have no sperm by 2045 — while many others would have extremely low counts.
In her book, Swan argues that chemicals pervasive in our world obstruct hormones in our bodies and contribute to harmful reproductive health outcomes for both men and women.
What are Endocrine-Disrupting Chemicals?
The endocrine system is a network of glands and organs that produce, store, and secrete hormones. When functioning normally, the endocrine system works with other systems to regulate your body’s healthy development and function.
Endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) are substances in the environment, food sources, personal care products, and manufactured products that interfere with the normal function of your body’s endocrine system.
Some EDCs act like hormones and confuse our body, while other EDCs block natural hormones from playing their natural role. EDCs have been linked to numerous adverse human health outcomes, including alterations in sperm quality and fertility, abnormalities in sex organs, endometriosis, early puberty, altered nervous system function, immune function, certain cancers, respiratory problems, metabolic issues, diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular issues, growth, neurological and learning disabilities, and more.
EDC and National Research
Dr. Pat Hunt, a geneticist at the Washington State University School of Molecular Biosciences, studied the effect of chemical exposures on male and female fertility since a laboratory accident in 1998 alerted her to the harmful effects of EDC products.
“Over the years, I’ve watched the opinions of my scientific colleagues change as the evidence has become increasingly convincing,” Hunt stated. “There’s no question that sperm counts have fallen. The hypothesis that sperm counts have fallen due to exposure to these chemicals has also gained more and more credence.”
Linda Birnbaum, former director of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences and the National Toxicology Program, stated that Swan’s work is impressive. “There are repeated studies by different investigators in different locations that support that sperm counts are falling,” Birnbaum stated. “It’s complex what might be causing it. I don’t think there’s any one thing. But I do think endocrine-disrupting chemicals one part of the puzzle.”
In her book, Swan lays out an action plan to help people change their daily habits and reduce exposures — which refers to “Remove, replace and regulate” endocrine-disrupting chemicals.
“The chemicals themselves have to be remodeled and substituted for chemicals that cannot interfere with human hormone systems. That’s absolutely critical,” Swan acknowledged. “They have to not be harmful at very low doses. And they have to not be persistent in the environment.”
We live in a world where we are exposed to forces outside our control, but Swann’s research and knowledge are power.