While the study was retrospective, depending on mothers' recollection,
the correlation between the level of beef consumption and sperm quality
is consistent: the higher consumption, the lover average sperm count. No
other food has shown positive correlation in this respect.
The main suspect for this effect of beef on fertility are
used as growth stimulants by beef industry. At present, it is still
legal in the U.S. to use six hormonal growth promoters, among them
steroids like testosterone, estrogen and progesterone. In the EU
(European Union), they are banned for nearly two decades (since 1988).
of beef with pesticides and
dioxins may also be a factor, both
being estrogen mimics.
This shouldn't come as a surprise. Developing fetus is most vulnerable
to toxic and potentially damaging chemicals, including those that we are
commonly exposed to, and consider harmless.
Levels of estrogen often found in tap water
alone are not very
much lower than those that have been found capable of affecting
fetus, to the extent of causing birth defects.
One more chemical threat, not a subject of the above study, is another contaminant present in beef - and other meat products - namely
antibiotics. Exposure to
antibiotic from the earliest age may result in lowered effectiveness of future antibiotic
treatments. And the always present risk is that
antibiotic-containing meat will harbor antibiotic-resistant bacteria,
which are serious danger for anyone,
regardless of age.
Results of this study are just another reminder that our
indiscriminate and often irresponsible use of chemicals everywhere
from agriculture to industry, from household cleaners to personal care, and from
food processing to pharmaceutical products, takes increasingly heavy toll
on public health. We are just beginning to scratch the surface of their
adverse effects, and there is certainly more to come.