Researchers hypothesize that the around one third fall in 'healthy swimmers' between 1989 and 2005 - the study followed 26,000 men - could be due to pesticide exposure among farm workers in the nation's wine regions of Aquitaine and Midi-Pyrénées in the Southwest.
Given no other health problems that would explain the sperm shortfall, researchers at the Institut de Veille Sanitaire blame pesticide exposure on lower quality levels, since as endocrine disruptors the chemicals can block hormones and affect sperm production.
Ooh la argh...
Dr. Joëlle Le Moal, researcher at the Institut de Veille Sanitaire, told website The Local: ”Wine cultivation is the activity that uses the most pesticides in proportion to the agricultural area. In these two regions there could be a local contributor due to the pesticides they use in wine cultivation, because this kind of production uses so much.”
Across the research timeframe, the researchers also found that men in Aquitaine and Midi-Pyrénées had a lower than average number of properly shaped sperm cells, while there were increases in other, non-wine producing regions of France.
Despite stressing the need for more research, Le Moal told The Local that the study was important because sperm quality was co-related to life expectancy.
You can read The Local's more comprehensive article in full here.