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Hum Fertil (Camb). 2005 Sep;8(3):197-207.

Dietary oestrogens and male fertility potential.

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Obstetrics & Gynaecology, School of Medicine, Institute of Clinical Science, Queen's University Belfast, UK.


Reports of increased incidences of male reproductive abnormalities and falling sperm counts have prompted interest into the nature of these threats to global fertility. Xenoestrogens have been flagged as major culprits but to date, little is known about the effects of dietary phytoestrogens on male reproductive health. These non-steroidal oestrogens of plant origin are potent endocrine disruptors that modulate normal physiological functions. Phytoestrogens have become a major component in the typical Western fast food diet over the last few decades. Soy formula milk is another common source of phytoestrogens, now used increasingly as an alternative to breast or cow's milk for infants with allergies. This use is of particular concern since the most vulnerable periods for oestrogenic insult are thought to be the pre- and neonatal periods when irreversible damage can be inflicted on the developing germinal epithelium. Studies into the safety of phytoestrogens are urgently needed either to allay fears or increase awareness of the effects of our modern diet on future fertility.

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