Researchers from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in Boston, MA, report that men who eat fruits and vegetables with higher levels of pesticide residues have a lower percentage of normal sperm, compared with those who eat food with lower levels of residue.
Previous studies have reported a link between occupational and environmental exposure to pesticides and lower semen quality. However, data on associations between pesticide residues in food and adverse health effects have been limited, and no previous studies have looked at what the effect on semen quality might be.
“To our knowledge, this is the first report to link consumption of pesticide residues in fruits and vegetables, a primary exposure route for most people, to an adverse reproductive health outcome in humans,” says Jorge Chavarro, assistant professor of nutrition and epidemiology and the senior author of the new study in the journal Human Reproduction.
Using data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Pesticide Data Program, the researchers categorised the following as fruits and vegetables that contain high amounts of pesticide residues: peppers, spinach, strawberries, apples and pears.