scorecardPlastic testes: Scientists analyse human testicles, find microplastics in every single one of them!
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Plastic testes: Scientists analyse human testicles, find microplastics in every single one of them!

Plastic testes: Scientists analyse human testicles, find microplastics in every single one of them!
LifeScience2 min read
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Eat right, exercise, get adequate sleep, manage your stress, avoid smoking and limit alcohol — these are some of the recommendations men receive to maintain a healthy sperm count. But what if, even after following all this advice, the sperm count gets affected due to the nature of the world we live in?

A new study has discovered microplastics in human testicles, raising concerns about their potential link to declining sperm counts in men.

Researchers tested 23 human testes and 47 testes from pet dogs. After dissolving the tissue samples and analysing the plastic remnants, they found microplastic pollution in every single sample!

The human testicles exhibited a plastic concentration nearly three times higher than that found in dog testes: 330 micrograms per gram of tissue compared to 123 micrograms. Polyethylene, commonly used in plastic bags and bottles, was the most prevalent microplastic found, followed by PVC.

PVC is known to release chemicals that interfere with spermatogenesis and contains substances that disrupt the endocrine system, which produces and regulates hormones crucial for numerous bodily functions, including growth, metabolism and reproduction.

Furthermore, the human testes analysed were obtained from postmortems conducted in 2016, with the men aged between 16 and 88 at the time of their deaths. Given the increased plastic pollution since then, researchers are particularly concerned about its impact on younger generations.

While the preserved human testicles couldn’t have their sperm counts measured, the dog testes—obtained from veterinary neutering operations—were assessable. Findings showed lower sperm counts in samples with higher PVC contamination. While this shows a correlation, further research is needed to definitively prove that microplastics cause declining sperm counts.

In addition to testicles, microplastics have also recently been found in human blood, placentas and breast milk, indicating widespread contamination of human bodies. Laboratory studies have shown that microplastics can damage human cells. Moreover, these particles might lodge in tissues and cause inflammation, while the chemicals in plastics could be harmful as well. In March, doctors warned of life-threatening effects, noting a significantly increased risk of stroke, heart attack, and early death in people with contaminated blood vessels.

Microplastics have already polluted the entire planet, from the summit of Mount Everest to the deepest oceans. Therefore, their presence in the innermost parts of the human body, while alarming, is not entirely surprising. The challenge now is to contain this damage and prevent it from worsening, which is easier said than done given the pervasive role of plastic in the modern way of life.

The study was published in the journal Toxicological Sciences and can be accessed here.

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