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Manganese levels affect sperm quality

Catherine McDiarmid-Watt | Monday, May 07, 2007 | 0 comments

Thursday, April 26, 2007 - NEW YORK (Reuters Health)

Michigan-based researchers have found that too much or too little environmental exposure to the mineral manganese can reduce sperm quality and quantity, perhaps leading to male infertility.

Manganese is found naturally in the environment and is also released into the air from mining and manufacturing operations and from combustion of gasoline additives.

"Human exposure to ambient levels of manganese is universal and mainly occurs via air and dust exposures," Dr. Julie J. Wirth from Michigan State University, East Lansing and colleagues note in a report in the journal Epidemiology.

They point out that trace amounts of manganese are needed for normal sperm function, but high levels have been shown to harm male fertility.

The researchers measured blood levels of manganese in 200 men visiting infertility clinics in Michigan between 2003 and 2005.

They found that men with high manganese levels had a greater than 5-fold higher likelihood of low sperm motility, meaning that less than 50 percent of their sperm were moving. Men with high manganese levels were also 2.4-fold more likely to have low sperm counts.

Low blood manganese levels were also associated with low sperm motility and concentration, although not as strongly. It makes sense, Wirth's team writes, that low manganese might adversely affect sperm, given that this mineral plays a critical role in many metabolic processes, including reproduction.

The findings, Wirth told Reuters Health, "are important because the high manganese level was at or above the normal range for manganese in blood ... while the low level was within the normal range, suggesting that low ambient levels of manganese are a potential risk factor for poor semen quality."

SOURCE: Epidemiology, March 2007.



About Catherine: I am mom to three grown sons, two grandchildren and two rescue dogs. After years of raising my boys as a single mom, I remarried a wonderful man who had never had a child of his own. Unexpectedly, I found myself pregnant at 49!
Sadly we lost that precious baby at 8 weeks, and decided to try again. Five more losses, turned down for donor egg, foster care and adoption due to my age and losses - we have accepted that there will be no more babies in our house.

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