According to a recent study by Universite Clermont Auvergne researchers, exposure to chemical additives and building blocks commonly used in everyday plastic products, even in low doses, can cause significant damage to the genetic material carried by sperm cells.
The study, led by Professor Joel Drevet, examined two common chemicals widely used in the plastic industry: dibutyl phthalate and bisphenol AF. These chemicals have long been linked to lowering male fertility, but the novelty of this study was in evaluating doses that were previously considered safe or inconsequential for consumers. While researchers found no appreciable effect on general semen parameters typically examined in fertility clinics such as sperm counts and motility, significant oxidation and decompaction of DNA structure in sperm cells were observed. This is concerning because damage to paternal genetic material can expose the female partner to higher risk of pregnancy loss and potentially impact the health of the offspring. Interestingly, the study also showed that co-administration with micronutrient supplement Fertilix(R) significantly blocked the damaging effects of these chemicals on sperm DNA.
Given that microplastics are found everywhere in our surroundings, these findings underscore the importance of greater public awareness and the urgency for the plastic industry to replace such substances with biodegradable or natural alternatives. Furthermore, fertility experts counseling couples ahead of natural or assisted conception should advocate for preconceptual supplementation and possible lifestyle modifications that may mitigate the impact of environmental pollutants.
This study is now available with open-access in Antioxidants, a premier journal in antioxidant research, and can be downloaded here. https://www.mdpi.com/2076-3921/12/5/1046 CellOxess Biotechnology, the designer and manufacturer of Fertilix(R) formulations, will present the full results of this study at the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology (ESHRE) annual meeting this June in Copenhagen, Denmark.
Frances Gallagher, MPH
Marketing & Communications Coordinator