alcoholA study conducted by Dr. Tina Kold Jensen, a professor of environmental medicine at the University of Southern Denmark, and colleagues reveals that excessive consumption of alcohol appears to influence sperm count in men.

The research shows that very high levels of alcohol consumption are associated with a lower quantity and quality of sperm. The researchers explained that they tried to adjust for other possible causes like weight, diet, smoking, etc., which did not explain the association. However, they could not rule out if this effect may be due to other factor that were not measured associated with alcohol intake.

The research involved more than 1,200 Danish men undergoing a required medical examination to determine whether they were fit for military service. The men were between the ages of 18 and 28. They filled out questionnaires about their drinking, provided a semen sample and had their blood drawn.

According with the study, published a few days ago in the journal BMJ Open, those who consumed at least five drinks per week had a lower total sperm count and percentage of normal sperm, compared to those drinking just one drink weekly. However, the average amount of testosterone in their blood rose as their alcohol intake increased.

“Many men are quiet drinkers who don’t realize that this may affect them as they drink a lot more than they admit to,” said Dr. Michael Heard, an obstetrician, gynecologist and reproductive endocrinologist at The Heard Clinic and Houston Methodist Hospital in Houston.

According to Heard, being intoxicated can lead to changes in hormones and other chemicals in the body, including cortisol, glucose, insulin and male hormones. “All of these would affect sperm quality,” he said. And, poor sperm quality can affect fertility, he added.

A second study found that drinking a lot of alcohol was linked to a higher risk of contracting human papillomavirus (HPV), a sexually transmitted disease. This study was published in the Oct. 2 issue of the journal Sexually Transmitted Infections.

The second study included more than 1,300 American men. The researchers found that those who drank the most alcohol (more than 10 grams a day) were 13 percent more likely to have any HPV type and 35 percent more likely to have a cancer-related HPV type, compared to those drinking the least amount of alcohol (less than 0.1 gram per day). The U.S. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism defines a standard drink as one containing 14 grams of alcohol.

Even after the researchers took into account the number of sex partners the men had and whether they smoked — another risk factor for HPV-associated cancers — the study still found an link between alcohol consumption and HPV infection.

“Alcohol may have an effect on the immune system, which may increase the risk of HPV,” Heard said, though he expressed doubt about the accuracy of the men’s reported sexual activity and number of partners.

All three experts said, however, that these findings all point to the importance of limiting alcohol intake among young men.

Through: Health Library