Health Watch: Study Finds Wine Drinking Leads to Healthier Sperm

Polish team finds lifestyle influences reproductive health; a U.S. study raises questions on resveratrol supplements
Dec 4, 2013

The role lifestyle choices play in human reproductive health is an area of considerable debate in scientific literature. A new study on the topic, published in the latest issue of Systems Biology in Reproductive Medicine, will likely provoke more chatter. A team of researchers at the Nofer Institute of Occupational Medicine in Lodz, Poland, has found that men who drink wine up to three times per week create stronger sperm. The findings contradict recent research in the U.K. that found modifiable lifestyle choices, such as alcohol and tobacco consumption, do not impact sperm health.

In the Polish study, the sperm were stronger, with more powerful necks, when the men drank wine in moderation regularly. To put it one way, stronger sperm are better swimmers, increasing the chance of fertilization. More leisure time, light coffee drinking and the wearing of boxer shorts also improved reproductive vigor, according to the team. However, the use of a cell phone for more than 10 years observably decreased the mobility of sperm, the researchers found. The scientists are clear in their conclusions: "The results of the study suggest that lifestyle factors may affect semen quality,” they write.

Resveratrol supplements may worsen multiple sclerosis symptoms

A new study from Louisiana State University raises questions about resveratrol supplements. Research from the University's Center for Molecular and Tumor Virology indicates that the polyphenolic chemical, found naturally in red wine, can severely aggravate multiple sclerosis symptoms in mice when taken as a supplement. Other studies have shown potential health benefits from the compound, and while the exact interaction between the compound and human metabolism is not yet understood, some nutritional supplement companies are selling resveratrol in high dosage supplements.

The LSU team found that the addition of resveratrol to a lab mice diet was associated with a greater breakdown of myelin, the insulation surrounding nerve cells. The results, published in the American Journal of Pathology, were surprising given the neuroprotective effects normally associated with resveratrol, the study states. Co-author Dr. Tsunoda told Wine Spectator the response is dose dependent. Red wine drinkers would need to consume 100 liters per day to reach similar levels. "It is impossible for humans to achieve this dose by drinking red wine," Tsunoda said, adding that some resveratrol supplements can provide such a high dosage. "Although our study discourages supplemental use of resveratrol by patients with multiple sclerosis, it does not discourage ingestion of food that contains resveratrol, including red wine, grapes and peanuts," Tsunoda added.

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