Falling sperm count sparks fertility concerns in France

We’re French. We have more nuclear weapons than anyone else in Europe.

The sperm count of French men plunged by a third between 1989 and 2005, a finding which fuels concern that environmental pollutants or lifestyle are crimping fertility…

Exceptional in scope, the study is believed to be the first country-wide, long-term probe into sperm quality, the team said.

“This constitutes a serious public health warning. The link with the environment particularly needs to be determined,” they warned in the European journal Human Reproduction.

Researchers examined data for semen samples provided by 26,609 men at 126 in-vitro fertilisation (IVF) centres in France over 17 years…

Over this period, the sperm count — fell continuously, by an average annual rate of about 1.9 percent, totalling 32.2 percent…

Speculating on the source of the declines, the scientists point to suspects which have already been fingered in lab research.

They could be chemical pollutants called endocrine disruptors that change hormone levels.

“They might also be linked to other known semen-altering factors that would have changed over the study period, like an increase in body-mass index, stress, nutrition or infections.”

At least it’s a new excuse to offer the Pope when he whines about birth control.

Fast food blasted for its contribution to diabetes epidemic

More than 350 million people in the world now have diabetes, an international study has revealed. The analysis, published online by the Lancet on Saturday, adds several tens of millions to the previous estimate of the number of diabetics and indicates that the disease has become a major global health problem…

The dramatic and disturbing increase is blamed by scientists on the spread of a western-style diet to developing nations, which is causing rising levels of obesity. Researchers also say that increased life expectancy is playing a major role…

“Diabetes … is set to become the single largest burden on world health care systems,” one of the study’s main authors, Professor Majid Ezzati, of Imperial College London, told the Observer…

The study – funded by the World Health Organisation and the Gates Foundation – analysed blood from 2.7 million participants aged 25 and over from across the world over a three-year period…

The team then used advanced statistical methods to estimate prevalence rates among the participants. It was estimated that the number of adults with diabetes was 347 million, more than double the 153 million estimated in 1980 and considerably higher even than a 2009 study that put the number at 285 million…

It was found that in the US glucose levels had risen at more than twice the rate of western Europe over the past three decades. In wealthy nations, diabetes and glucose levels were highest in the US, Malta, New Zealand and Spain, and lowest in the Netherlands, Austria and France…

I’m fond to point out that condemning fast food restaurants because they serve unhealthy food is akin to cautioning people to stay out of grocery stores because they are full of aisles and aisles of cookies and sugary cereals. It’s what you pick to eat, folks. The coronary corollary to this is that if people don’t order it, they won’t sell it.

Could Getting More Sleep Discourage Hardening of Arteries?

People who scrimp on sleep are more likely to develop hardening of their arteries, a precursor to heart disease, research suggests.

Calcified arteries were found in nearly a third of people who slept fewer than five hours a night.

This dropped to around one in 10 for those who slept an extra hour, the Journal of the American Medical Association study of 495 adults found….

At the first scan, none of the volunteers had any calcification in their arteries but five years later 61 of them did.

This calcification appeared to be linked with lack of sleep.

The risk was lowest for those who regularly had more than seven hours sleep each night.

The researchers make clear that factors other than sleep may be involved– stress, blood pressure (which is affected by sleep), etc. In other words, if you are not getting enough sleep, you may have to examine your lifestyle in general. But that doesn’t mean that sleep issues might not serve as an important red flag.

Fast Food: A Risk Factor For Alzheimer’s?

Do they mean like this?

Mice that were fed a diet rich in fat, sugar and cholesterol for nine months developed a preliminary stage of the morbid irregularities that form in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients. The study results, published in a doctoral thesis from the Swedish medical university Karolinska Institutet (KI), give some indications of how this difficult to treat disease might one day be preventable….

The underlying causes of Alzheimer’s disease are still something of a mystery, but there are a number of known risk factors. The most common is a variant of a certain gene that governs the production of apolipoprotein E, one of the functions of which is to transport cholesterol. The gene variant is called apoE4 and is found in 15-20 per cent of the population.

For her doctoral thesis, Susanne Akterin studied mice that had been genetically modified to mimic the effects of apoE4 in humans. The mice were then fed for nine months on a diet rich in fat, sugar and cholesterol, representing the nutritional content of most fast food.

“On examining the brains of these mice, we found a chemical change not unlike that found in the Alzheimer brain,” says Ms Akterin, postgraduate at KI Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center.

Interesting study.  But why must such findings be presented as a “fast food” story?  Folks, I eat a lot of fast food.  While doing so, I rarely eat a meal “rich in fat, sugar and cholesterol.”  On the contrary, I eat mostly grilled chicken, plenty of salads, rarely any french fries, and the chili and baked potato at Wendy’s are delicious, thankyevedimuch.  I enjoy grabbing a sandwich at Subway, and know a nice lady from India who knows how to load it down with lots of veggies.  (I usually get no meat!)

Order what you will.  But please don’t blame the brick and mortar.  It’s called “personal responsibility.”