Daily News Archive
From June 29, 2001

Scientist Alarmed At Increase in Genetically Damaged Human Sperm

Scientists from around the world are now estimating that up to 85% of the sperm produced by a healthy human is DNA-damaged, according to a leading authority on the subject as reported recently by the Montreal Gazette. John Aitken, head of biological sciences at the University of Newcastle in Australia says that high of a percentage of genetically damaged sperm is very unusual. Dr. Aitken points out that if one were to look at a rat, mouse or rabbit, one would usually find 80% of the sperm were normal; compare that to the finding that humans may have only 15% healthy sperm. Click here to read the full article from montrealgazette.com.

Scientists have been watching the trend of declining sperm counts for the last 20 years. Now scientists are discovering that it is also the quality of the sperm that is declining. There is speculation that the damaged sperm might be causing birth defects as well as brain cancer and leukemia in children, as well as the global increase in testicular cancer.

Scientists suspect a variety of environmental causes for the damaged sperm cells including exposure to pesticides and other industrial chemicals. Beyond Pesticides has created a list of the 48 most commonly used pesticides in schools that indicates which of those pesticides are linked to reproductive problems such as genetic mutations. That list is available on the Beyond Pesticides website under the Pesticides in Schools program heading.