A new study suggests that eating processed meat could detrimentally affect a man’s chances of conceiving by making them infertile.
Bacon has a reputation for being a dangerous food. It has been linked with such health scares as heart disease and bowel cancer in the past, and managed to almost single-handedly destroy Ed Miliband’s reputation in the run up to this year’s general election.
But it’s wrecking-ball approach doesn’t stop there. This week, a new study has outlined yet another potentially detrimental effect of the cured meat – and this time, bacon’s hitting below the belt and may be making you infertile.
The new report suggests that consumption of meat products such as bacon, sausages and canned favourites such as Spam could be leading to making men infertile.
Devised by the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, the paper, published in the Journal for Fertility & Sterility, followed the eating habits of 141 men who were attempting to conceive with their partners using in vitro fertilisation (IVF). These men were required to complete dietary questionnaires, noting down the processed and unprocessed foods they ate.
The data showed that the men who ate less than 1.5 servings of processed meat every week had a 28 per cent better chance of conceiving using IVF than men who ate upwards of four servings each week.
However, the excessive consumption of some meats – such as poultry – could be seen to have beneficial effects on fertility.
“There was a positive association between poultry intake and fertilisation rate,” the study authors wrote, “with a 13pc higher fertilisation rate among men in the highest quartile of poultry intake compared with those in the lowest quartile.”
The results of the study have divided medical professionals. Dr. Natan Bar-Chama, director of male reproductive medicine and surgery at the Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City, told Health.com that he found the results of the study troubling, and now believes that any prospective fathers should try to avoid sausages and bacon when trying to conceive.
“Decreasing processed-meat consumption can now be added to the list of recommendations — such as to stop smoking, decrease alcohol consumption and lose weight — that we can offer to men prior to fertility treatments to optimise outcomes,” said Bar-Chama.
However, Dr. Elizabeth Kavaler, a urology specialist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, told the same publication that factors other than processed meat could have affected the study. “One of the reasons the study may have found more successful outcomes in the men undergoing fertility treatments who ate chicken over bacon is that chicken-eaters may have an overall healthier diet and lifestyle than bacon-eaters,” she said.
Bacon – the food that recently topped a poll of Britain’s favourite food – is among the most consumed meat product in the country, with over 1.5m tons of rashers being eaten every year. And whilst this new study may not definitively prove that processed meats detrimentally affect male fertility, the evidence does suggest that if you’re struggling to conceive, you should stop bringing home the bacon to avoid becoming infertile.