Is poor semen quality a new longevity risk factor? Normally, a doctor looking for a snapshot of a patient's health will ask about smoking, drinking, diet, and exercise and then measure cholesterol, blood pressure, blood sugar, and weight or waist size. These facts and numbers already enable doctors to predict long-term health and longevity, but scientists are always looking for additional measurements that can predict survival. According to an article in the August 2011 Harvard Men's Health Watch, new Danish research may have pinpointed an unlikely health predictor, at least for men: semen quality.
Between 1963 and 2001, the Copenhagen Sperm Analysis Laboratory performed semen analyses on 51,543 men, most of whom were referred because they or their partners had concerns about fertility. The results showed a clear link between semen quality and the rate of death. As the number of sperm increased up to a threshold of 40 million per milliliter of semen, the mortality rate declined steadily; the men with the highest sperm counts enjoyed a mortality rate 43% lower than the men with the lowest counts.
The apparent protective effect of high semen quality extended to a broad range of diseases, suggesting that specific lifestyle factors do not explain the findings. Instead, the Danish scientists postulate that semen quality may be a reliable biomarker of overall health and life expectancy.
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