Does Nature think the Earth is overpopulated? Because a "natural" form of birth control is going on right now: A new study of 26,000 men shows that between 1989 and 2005, average sperm counts fell by a third, increasing their risk of infertility.
The decline occurred progressively throughout the 17-year period, meaning that it could still be going on. In fact, in 2011, the US birth rate was the lowest ever recorded, led by a large decrease in births to immigrant women.
Other research over the last 20 years has shown that sperm counts are declining in many countries. The reason isn't known, but possible explanations have ranged from tight underwear to estrogenic toxins in the environment.
The fall in sperm counts has been accompanied by a rise in testicular cancer (rates have doubled in the last 30 years), and in other male sexual problems such as undescended tentacles. Scientists say this all adds up to a "worrying pattern."
In the December 5th edition of the Independent, Jeremy Laurance quotes reproductive expert Richard Sharpe as saying, "Now, there can be little doubt that it is real, so it is a time for action. Something in our modern lifestyle, diet or environment is causing this and it is getting progressively worse. We still do not know which are the most important factors but the most likely are a high-fat diet and environmental chemical exposures."
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