Health

Could Microplastics in Testicles be Causing the Fertility Crisis? by Lisa

Semen is a⁣ fascinating substance. It can hold hundreds ‌of millions of active sperm, a variety of⁣ vitamins, citric acid, prostaglandins, ⁤proteins, and ​even‍ up ⁤to 25 calories in a ‌single teaspoon.⁢ However, recent scientific studies have revealed a ‌concerning presence: plastics.

Microplastics, which are plastic particles smaller than ‍5mm, have ⁢been found in ⁣our bodies at an ⁤alarming rate in ​recent ⁤years. They have ‌been detected in our digestive systems, our blood, and ⁣even in our organs‌ such as the liver, kidneys, and heart. ⁣There is ​also evidence of microplastics in women’s uteri and ‍in the placentas of unborn babies.

Recently, a number of studies have focused on the presence of​ microplastics‌ in men’s testicles. Last year, researchers at ‍Peking University Third Hospital in‌ Beijing ‍discovered microplastics in‍ the ‍testes of⁤ four⁢ male patients and in eleven out of⁢ thirty semen samples. Italian researchers also⁢ found them⁣ in the semen ‌of six male subjects.⁤ In May, a ‍study published in Toxicological Sciences by researchers at the​ University of‌ New Mexico revealed the presence of microplastics in the testes of all 23 ‍human ‌and 47⁣ canine subjects tested.

Why dogs, you might ask? According to Chelin Hu, a researcher at the University of New ‌Mexico and the lead author of ‍the ⁤study, dogs and humans share the same living spaces‍ and have‍ shown a ⁤coinciding reduction in sperm quality over the past several decades.​ Therefore, studying​ dogs ​can provide valuable insights into the‍ effects of environmental pollutants on humans.

The study found that human subjects contained‌ microplastic concentrations three times higher than their canine counterparts. ​The types of ⁢plastic also varied, ⁣with both ⁤species containing traces of polyethylene, commonly found in food pouches and plastic films. However, the human⁣ samples also contained nylons, used in clothing fibres, ⁢and ABS, a plastic used in ⁣kitchen utensils, among other things.

So, where ⁤are these‍ microplastics coming from? The answer is disturbingly simple: everywhere. Plastics can break⁣ down due to friction, heat, UV⁤ damage, or interaction with⁣ other chemicals. We start ingesting microplastics as early as at ‌birth, ‌through IV ‌drips and ⁤baby bottles. As adults, we likely ​consume ‍them regularly in food and drinks, not just from plastic packaging, but potentially‍ from microplastics spread ⁤on farmland in fertiliser. We may even ⁢be inhaling a ‍significant amount of microplastics.

With microplastics ⁣now‍ found inside us, the urgent task is to determine the potential damage they might be causing. According to Matt Simon,‍ an editor at Grist‌ and the author of A Poison Like⁣ No Other: How Microplastics Corrupted Our Planet and Our‌ Bodies, microplastics ‌pose three potential threats. The first is the physical ‌plastic particle itself, which​ can get stuck in the lungs, similar⁣ to asbestos. ‍Workers in synthetic textile factories have been ‌found to have​ a lot of ⁣these‍ in their lungs ⁤and had higher rates of​ respiratory and digestive cancers. A recent ‌study also found that patients with microplastics in a crucial artery were 4.5 times more ⁤likely to experience a⁤ heart attack,‌ stroke, or die afterwards than those without.

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