Health Briefs


Male fertility and sperm count have suffered a decline during the past few decades. Exposure to aluminum from a variety of sources, from tin, foil, antacids, utensils to deodorant, could be a significant cause. Researchers from the Universities of Lyon and Saint-Etienne in France and Keele University in the UK used a fluorescence microscope to scrutinize an aluminum-specific stain. This experiment confirmed that aluminum is a common contaminant in semen and inside individual sperm.

Measuring 62 donors’ semen for aluminum content at a French clinic, the study found the mean average for all 62 was a very high 339 parts per billion (ppb). Many subjects’ levels were extremely high at above 500 ppb.

These findings lead to a statistically significant inverse relationship between semen’s aluminum content and sperm count. The higher the aluminum, the lower the sperm count. Concerns about aluminum’s harmful effects on health are not new. However, this study is the first evidence to reveal a link between aluminum and human sperm count. Policymakers want to use this data to encourage more rigorous control of the amount of aluminum that enters the environment.

Trying to conceive? Don’t stress!

It’s very stressful for couples who want to conceive, but can’t. Now, researchers have data that suggests this preconception anxiety itself might play a role in their infertility. Expanding on and corroborating an earlier UK study that showed an association between high stress levels and a lower probability of pregnancy, this new data indicates that, indeed, stress is a factor in preventing women from conceiving.

Researchers at Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center found that women with high levels of alpha-amylase (a biological stress indicator found in saliva) are 29 percent less likely to get pregnant each month. Also, they are more than twice as likely to fall under the clinical definition of infertility (not getting pregnant despite 12 months of regular unprotected intercourse), compared to women who do not have high levels of this protein enzyme. Researchers followed 501 American women, aged 18 to 40 years, who did not have any known fertility problems and had just started trying to conceive. The study tracked them for 12 months or until they became pregnant. The results of this research should persuade women who have difficulty getting pregnant to consider practicing stress management and reduction techniques.

Hot flashes during menopause: possible warning for hip fracture later in life

New research from a University of California study suggests a possible link between certain menopause symptoms – moderate to severe hot flashes and night sweats – with higher rates of hip fractures and weaker bones. A common symptom of menopause, hot flashes affect about 60 percent of women.

Hormonal changes during menopause continue to affect women after menopause because they face higher risks of weakened bones and osteoporosis. For eight years, researchers tracked medical records of more than 23,000 U.S. women aged 50 to 79. Women with moderate or severe menopausal symptoms are more likely to have bone health problems than those without symptoms, according to the study’s findings. The scientists notethat they need to do more research to explain the connection between bone health and hot flashes and other menopausal symptoms. Better understanding of these connections will help clinicians in advising women on how they can reduce the occurrence of osteoporosis and other bone conditions.

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