The power of TV: watching 20 hours a week halves sperm count, according to new study

 

Men who watch more than 20 hours of television a week risk halving their sperm count, researchers warn.

A sedentary lifestyle can have a major impact on a man’s ability to reproduce, the research found.

And while regular, vigorous exercise was shown to boost sperm count, excessive television-watching can counteract the positive effects of physical activity.

The study, published by the British Journal of Sports Medicine, looked at the lifestyles of 189 healthy men between the ages of 18 and 22, over a three-month period, to establish a link between environmental factors and semen quality.

It found an increasingly idle lifestyle might be a contributing factor to declining sperm levels. Other factors assessed included medical or reproductive health problems, diet, stress levels and smoking.

Men who watched more than 20 hours of television a week had a sperm count 44 per cent lower than those who watched the least, it found.

Volunteers who were most physically active, doing more than 15 hours of exercise a week, had a 73 per cent higher sperm count than the least physically active.

However, men who did regular exercise but also watched a lot of TV recorded lower sperm counts.

The study has bolstered concerns that sperm counts and quality in the Western world have deteriorated over the past few decades. In December, the world’s largest investigation into this area found quality and concentration had fallen sharply. Between 1989 and 2005, average sperm counts fell by a third according to analysis of 26,000 men.

A worldwide drop in sperm count levels has also been accompanied by a rise in testicular cancer – rates have doubled in the last 30 years – and in other male sexual disorders such as undescended testes. A separate investigation last year challenged guidance from the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence, which suggests smoking and drinking can have an adverse effect on sperm stocks.

The study by researchers at the University of Sheffield and Manchester compared the lifestyles of 939 men with poor sperm quality with 1,310 men with normal sperm quality. It found “little evidence” that a high BMI, excessive alcohol consumption or recreational drugs were contributing factors to sperm quality.

It also found that wearing boxer shorts rather than tighter underwear was linked to higher sperm levels.

Dr George Chavarro from the Department of Nutrition at Harvard School at Public Health, senior author of the recent study, said: “In general, very little is known about what influences sperm count.”

There was even evidence that high levels of physical activity might have a detrimental effect on quality and quantity.

“I was sceptical of the results of the study on athletes because they are not representative of normal people, because of the high levels of intensity that these people achieve,” Dr Chavarro adds.

“One of the few things we do know is that obesity lowers sperm count – the idea that a more sedentary lifestyle speaks to that.”

Health tips: boost sperm count

Keep cool  Looser underwear raises body temperature so opt for boxer shorts over Y-fronts

Eat more seafood  Oysters in particular contain zinc, which plays a role in “activating” sperm

Go organic  Some pesticides found in food can stop testosterone production for up to 17 hours

Eat nuts  Studies suggest walnuts, right, improve the vitality and motility of sperm

Drink less  Excessive alcohol consumption may lower testosterone levels by up to 20 per cent

VIDEO
Arts & Entertainment
Homer meets Lego Marge in the 25th anniversary episode of The Simpsons, set to air on 4 May
tv
Arts & Entertainment
James Franco and Chris O'Dowd in Of Mice and Men on Broadway
theatreReview: Of Mice and Men, Longacre Theatre
Life & Style
Infant child breast-feeding with eyes closed
healthTo stop mummy having any more babies, according to scientists
News
news
Life & Style
Going down: Google's ambition to build an elevator into space isn't likely to be fulfilled any time soon
techTechnology giant’s scientists say there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit
Arts & Entertainment
film
Sport
Vito Mannone fails to keep out Samir Nasri's late strike
sportMan City 2 Sunderland 2: Goalkeeping howler allows Man City to scrap a draw – but Premier League title is Liverpool's to lose
News
David Cameron sings a hymn during the enthronement service of The Most Rev Justin Welby as Archbishop of Canterbury, at Canterbury Cathedral last year
news
Life & Style
From long to Jong: Guy Pewsey gets the North Korean leader's look
fashionThe Independent heads to an Ealing hairdressers to try out the North Korean dictator's trademark do
Extras
indybest10 best smartphones
Arts & Entertainment
tvCreator Vince Gilligan sheds light on alternate endings
Life & Style
Google Doodle celebrates the 63rd anniversary of the Peak District National Park
tech
News
Paul Weller, aka the Modfather, performing at last year’s Isle of Wight Festival in Newport
people
Life & Style
Michael Acton Smith founded Firebox straight out of university before creating Moshi Monsters
techHe started out selling silliness with online retailer Firebox, before launching virtual creatures who took the real world by storm
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Energy Consultant – Building Management

    up to £45,000 + benefits: The Green Recruitment Company: Our Client The Green ...

    Senior Industrial Energy Consultant

    Up to £45,000 + benefits: The Green Recruitment Company: Our Client The Green ...

    Mechanical Building Services Energy Engineer

    up to £45K basic + benefits: The Green Recruitment Company: Our Client The Gr...

    Building Services Energy Engineer

    up to £45K basic + benefits: The Green Recruitment Company: Our Client The Gr...

    Day In a Page

    Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail. If you think it's awful, then just don't watch it'

    Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail'

    As the second series of his divisive sitcom 'Derek' hits screens, the comedian tells James Rampton why he'll never bow to the critics who habitually circle his work
    Mad Men series 7, TV review: The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge

    Mad Men returns for a final fling

    The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge
    Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground as there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit

    Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground

    Technology giant’s scientists say there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit
    Westminster is awash with tales of young men being sexually harassed - but it's far from being just a problem in politics

    Is sexual harassment a fact of gay life?

    Westminster is awash with tales of young men being sexually harassed - but it's far from being just a problem in politics
    Moshi Monster creator Michael Acton Smith: The man behind a British success story

    Moshi Monster creator Michael Acton Smith

    Acton Smith launched a world of virtual creatures who took the real world by storm
    Kim Jong-un's haircut: The Independent heads to Ealing to try out the dictator's do

    Our journalist tries out Kim Jong-un's haircut

    The North Korean embassy in London complained when M&M Hair Academy used Kim Jong-un's image in the window. Curious, Guy Pewsey heads to the hair salon and surrenders to the clippers
    A History of the First World War in 100 moments: A forgotten naval victory in which even Nature played a part

    A History of the First World War in 100 moments

    A forgotten naval victory in which even Nature played a part
    Vespa rides on with launch of Primavera: Iconic Italian scooter still revving up millions of sales

    Vespa rides on with launch of the Primavera

    The Vespa has been a style icon since the 1950s and the release this month of its latest model confirms it has lost little of its lustre
    Record Store Day: Independent music shops can offer a tempting alternative to downloads

    Record Store Day celebrates independent music shops

    This Saturday sees a host of events around the country to champion the sellers of well-grooved wax
    Taunton's policy of putting philosophy at heart of its curriculum is one of secrets of its success

    Education: Secret of Taunton's success

    Taunton School, in Somerset, is one of the country's leading independent schools, says Richard Garner
    10 best smartphones

    10 best smartphones

    With a number of new smartphones on the market, we round up the best around, including some more established models
    Mickey Arthur: Aussie tells ECB to stick with Ashley Giles

    Mickey Arthur: Aussie tells ECB to stick with Ashley Giles

    The former Australia coach on why England must keep to Plan A, about his shock at their collapse Down Under, why he sent players home from India and the agonies of losing his job
    Homelessness: Why is the supported lodgings lifeline under threat?

    Why is the supported lodgings lifeline under threat?

    Zubairi Sentongo swapped poverty in Uganda for homelessness in Britain. But a YMCA scheme connected him with a couple offering warmth and shelter
    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: When the world’s biggest shed took over Regent’s Park

    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

    When the world’s biggest shed took over Regent’s Park
    The pain of IVF

    The pain of IVF

    As an Italian woman vows to keep the babies from someone else’s eggs, Julian Baggini ponders how the reality of childbirth is often messier than the natural ideal