The topic of overpopulation has been much discussed over the past few decades, but what if the real issue is a severe decline in population?
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It sounds like something straight out of a dystopian nightmare, but new research shows sperm counts are drastically dropping across the Western world.
Researchers from Hebrew University-Hadassah Braun School of Public Health and Community Medicine in Jerusalem announced this week that sperm count in men residing in developed countries has dropped by a whopping 50 percent over the past 40 years. They claim this alarming trend could potentially result in a decline in male health, fertility and possibly even extinction if the trend doesn't turn around.
"This study is an urgent wake-up call for researchers and health authorities around the world to investigate the causes of the sharp ongoing drop in sperm count," explained study co-author Hagai Levine.
After data was collected from 185 studies looking at sperm count and concentration in men from North America, Europe, Australia and New Zealand from 1973 to 2011, researchers found that total sperm count declined by 59.3 percent and sperm concentration declined by 52.4 percent.
Data from men in South America, Asia and Africa were also examined, however, no serious decline was detected. Researchers did note that not as many studies have been conducted in these regions.
Researchers didn't look into reasons why the drop in sperm count occurred, but noted that the phenomenon has been previously linked to factors ranging from exposure to chemicals and pesticides to lifestyle choices, including smoking, obesity and stress. They are worried that if things keep heading in this direction, the human race could be doomed.
Daniel Brison, an embryology and stem cell biology specialist at Manchester University who was asked to comment on the findings, told Reuters the study had "major implications not just for fertility, but for male health and wider public health."
"An unanswered question is whether the impact of whatever is causing declining sperm counts will be seen in future generations of children via epigenetic (gene modifications) or other mechanisms operating in sperm," Brison said.
The next step is obviously to pinpoint what is causing the sperm count to decrease so dramatically. "Given that we still do not know what lifestyle, dietary or chemical exposures might have caused this decrease, research efforts to identify (them) need to be redoubled and to be nonpresumptive as to cause," added Edinburgh University's Richard Sharpe.
In the meantime, if you are concerned about your own declining sperm count you should consider modifying your diet. Here are some foods that can help make your sperm more active, healthy and abundant.
Read more: The Top 9 Foods for Men's Sexual Health
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What Do YOU Think?
Are you surprised by the findings of this new study? What do you attribute the sperm count decline to? After learning about this study, are you concerned about population decrease?
"Men's Sperm Counts Are Dropping, and Scientists Don't Know Why" originally appeared on LIVESTRONG.COM.