Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Household chores found to be damaging to sperm count (?)

What they actually found was that people who had high exposures to strong magnentic fields had lower sperm counts. They did NOT trace the sources of those fields. It seems reasonable that they were factory workers who probably had poorer health anyway and hence the fields were not to blame

It's the get-out clause work-shy husbands have been praying for. A study has found doing household chores could reduce a man's chances of having children.

Researchers exposed male volunteers to electromagnetic fields – high doses of which are produced by all electrically charged objects, including refrigerators, vacuum cleaners and microwaves – and found such exposure could double the risk of having poor-quality sperm, the Daily Mail reports.

Fertility expert Dr De-Kun Li said his work provides the first evidence of a link between electrical goods and declining male fertility. Dr Li, of Stanford University, California, said he would advise men and couples trying for a baby to reduce their exposure to electromagnetic fields as much as possible. "I’m not saying you shouldn’t use a microwave but it makes sense to turn it on, then move away and go back when it is done," Dr Li said. "Keep devices, especially those with electric motors, away from the body."

The study recruited 148 donors at a sperm bank in Shanghai. Tests showed that 76 had poor sperm mobility, shape or count, while 72 had good-quality sperm. Those volunteers whose job involved working with high temperatures or being exposed to chemicals linked to sperm damage, such as solvents and pesticides, were excluded. Participants were asked to wear meters which took readings of magnetic fields every four seconds for 24 hours on days they considered ‘typical’.

They found that the half of the group who had peak readings above 0.16 microtesla – a measure of magnetic field strength – were twice as likely to have low sperm quality as those with readings below this level. Dr Li’s team also revealed the chances of having poor sperm quality increased as the time exposed to higher-strength magnetic fields rose. "This is the first study to show a link between measured electromagnetic fields and poor semen quality in humans, which may provide a logical explanation for why we have seen reductions in sperm quality in men over the past century."

Although the study, due to be published in January in the journal Reproductive Toxicology, did not look at what was producing the magnetic fields, electrical appliances – especially those containing motors such as hairdryers – produce high frequencies and therefore strong magnetic fields.

In previous studies, excessive alcohol consumption, smoking, a poor diet, drug use and obesity have all been shown to reduce sperm count. Dr Allan Pacey, of the British Fertility Society and a fertility researcher at Sheffield University, said he believed there might be something in it. "If these results are repeated in a bigger study, we need to start thinking seriously about promoting advice about avoiding exposure," Dr Pacey said.


FDA backs off oyster ban after strong criticism

A rare retreat for the food dictators

Facing fierce resistance, the Obama administration on Friday backed off a plan to ban sales of raw oysters from the Gulf of Mexico during warm-weather months. The Food and Drug Administration said it would put the proposal on hold while it studies ways to make the popular shellfish safer.

The abrupt turnaround came as oyster-lovers and industry officials _ as well as Democrats and Republicans across the Gulf _ blasted the plan as unnecessary government meddling. Industry officials said it could have killed a $500 million economy and thousands of jobs. "They might have been tone-deaf in the beginning, but they got the tune pretty quickly and listened to what we had to say," said Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., who said FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg notified her of the decision Friday afternoon. "I'm really thankful that they listened."

About 15 people die each year in the United States from raw oysters infected with Vibrio vulnificus, which typically is found in warm coastal waters between April and October. Most of the deaths occur in people with weak immune systems caused by health problems like liver or kidney disease, cancer, diabetes, or AIDS. While the total number of deaths is small compared with the annual estimates of 5,000 U.S. deaths from food-borne illnesses, FDA officials say it is a relatively high frequency that could be easily eliminated by processing oysters through treatments such as pasteurization.

Industry officials argue that anti-bacterial processing is too costly. They also say the treatments ruin the fresh taste and texture of raw oysters, which are considered a delicacy by many, particularly in the Gulf, which supplies about two-thirds of the U.S. oyster harvest.

Mike Voisin, an industry leader and oyster processor in Houma, La., said the FDA's proposal had became "a focal point for people to vent" during a time of pent-up anxiety. "Who can understand the bailout of Chrysler? Who could read a 1,000-plus page health care bill?" Voisin said. "This they could understand."

Kevin Begos, the director of the Franklin County Oyster & Seafood Task Force in Apalachicola, Fla., said FDA was snowed under by complaints. "We got 6,000 signatures on our petition in a week and on Facebook we had 7,000 members in one week," Begos said. "We got broad support: restaurants, food lovers and support from people who don't even like oysters who felt that consumers have a right to choose what food they want to eat."

In a statement, FDA said it heard "legitimate concerns" and decided that further studies are necessary to explore the feasibility and costs of new processing requirements. The White House declined to comment.

The oyster industry has been working with regulators for years to improve its safety performance by increasing refrigeration and trying to raise awareness of the hazards to people with weak immune systems. But the FDA says the results haven't changed much. The agency points to California as evidence that the ban is needed. In 2003, the state prohibited untreated Gulf oysters and has not seen any confirmed deaths since. By comparison, between 1991 and 2001, 40 people died in California from the infection.

The FDA proposal _ which was announced last month and had been slated to go into effect in 2011 _ would have prohibited sales of raw oysters from the Gulf for much of the year unless the shellfish were treated.


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