Quick, what’s manlier: eating bacon or fathering children?
See, even though the internet is big on pork products, what is the point of manliness if not to convey virility? And contrary to our notions of bacon being a manly food, a study from Harvard researchers found that men who consume processed meat daily are at risk of significantly lowering their sperm quality.
The study, which will be presented this week at a meeting of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine in Boston, compared the eating habits of 156 men undergoing IVF treatment with their partners.
The researchers found that men who ate half a portion of processed meat a day had 5.5 percent ‘normal’ shaped sperm cells, compared to 7.2 percent who ate less.
Rather than housing a lumberjack breakfast down at Denny’s, virile men are eating white fish. Men who ate halibut or cod every other day or half-portions daily had much higher quality sperm.
“We found the effect of processed meat intake lowered quality and fish raised quality,” lead researcher Dr. Myriam Afeiche told The Globe and Mail, which, as a Canadian paper, is following this story pretty closely.
The chairman of the British Fertility Society, Dr. Allen Pacey, warned that 156 men isn’t a very big sample. “This may be a real effect,” Pacey said, “but the study is small and we know that accurately measuring sperm size and shape in the laboratory is fraught with error.” So there's hope yet, bacon fans.
That said, processed meats aren’t doing you any favors in terms of general health, so even if you're not interested in having children or you're, say, a woman, moderation is probably advisable.The Globe and Mail reported on a 12-year-long European study released in March that found that “people who ate more than 160 grams of processed meat each day—versus less than 20 grams—were 44 per cent more likely to die early, in particular from cardiovascular disease but also from cancer.”
Finding out that bacon ruins sperm could be a real blow to the wonder meat, but probably not one that can clog the wide arteries of bacon mania that greasily grips the nation.
Maybe real manliness is being viral enough that you’re not worrying about having “normal-shaped” sperm. Or maybe manliness could be revised to include self-restraint.