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Maternal beef diet could impact sperm counts, UR study suggests

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Several explanations for the findings are possible, Swan said, including pesticides and other contaminants in cattle feed, as well as lifestyle factors during pregnancy that may correlate with greater beef consumption. Swan acknowledged that the mothers beef recall is subject to error, although pregnancy is usually a time of heightened awareness.

"This study must be replicated to confirm our findings," Swan said. "One way to determine if prenatal exposure to anabolic steroids is responsible for a change in sperm count would be to repeat this study in men born in Europe after 1988, when hormones were no longer permitted in beef sold or produced there."

Swan said she cannot advise women on how much beef is safe to eat during pregnancy. "We dont have the numbers to identify a safe cutoff, Swan said, "but in these data it seems to be the very high beef consumption that raises questions."

In previous studies, Swan has looked at whether semen quality is associated with exposure to farm pesticides in men from rural Missouri versus urban areas such as Minneapolis or New York. But this is the first study to examine beef intake and semen quality. A lack of human data on the safety of anabolic steroids in meat production prompted the latest analysis.


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Contact: Leslie Orr
Leslie_Orr@urmc.rochester.edu
585-275-5774
University of Rochester Medical Center
27-Mar-2007


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