Saturday, July 26, 2008

Causes of Low Sperm Count

Posted by Neill Abayon

The leading cause of male infertility is low sperm count. Others may be low sperm motility, bad quality sperms, lack of semen. In general, most cases of male infertility are due to low sperm count. There are many biologic and environmental factors that can lead to low sperm count. Here is a list if conditions that may cause low sperm count in men.


The effect of aging on male fertility is not clear, however, evidence is growing that it may be a factor. Fertilization rates are usually over 60% for men under 39 but for those over that age, the rates fell to slightly over half.

Temporary and Lifestyle Causes of Low Sperm Count

Nearly any major physical or mental stress can temporarily reduce sperm count. Some common conditions that lower sperm count, temporarily in nearly all cases, include the following:

  1. Emotional Stress. Stress may interfere with the hormone GnRH and reduce sperm counts.

  2. Sexual Issues. In less than 1% of males with infertility problems, a problem with sexual intercourse or technique will affect fertility.

  3. Impotence, premature ejaculation, or psychologic or relationship problems can contribute to infertility, although these conditions are usually very treatable.

  4. Lubricants used with condoms, including spermicides, oils, and Vaseline, can affect fertility. If you need a sperm friendly lubricant, the choice of many couples trying to get pregnant is Pre-Seed.

Testicular Exposure to Overheating.

Overheating (such as from high fever, saunas, and hot tubs) may temporarily lower sperm count. Work exposure to overheating may even impair fertility.

Substance Abuse

Cocaine or heavy marijuana use appears to temporarily reduce the number and quality of sperm by as much as 50%. Sperm actually have receptors for certain compounds in marijuana that resemble natural substances and which may impair the sperm's ability to swim and may also inhibit their ability to penetrate the egg.


Smoking impairs sperm count, sperm motility, reduces sperm lifespan, and may cause genetic changes that affect the offspring. Additionally, a 1999 study found that men who smoke have lower sex drives and less frequent sex.

Malnutrition and Nutrient Deficiencies.

Deficiencies in certain nutrients, such as vitamin C, selenium, zinc, and folate, may be particular risk factors for low sperm count in such cases.


Some studies, but not all, have found an association between obesity in men and low sperm count.


Bicycling has been linked to impotence in men and also may affect the sperm count. Pressure from the bike seat may damage blood vessels and nerves that are responsible for erections. Mountain biking, which involves riding on off-road terrain, exposes the perineum (the region between the scrotum and the anus) to more extreme shocks and vibrations and increases the risk for injuries to the scrotum.

Genetic Factors

Genetic factors are proving to be important contributors to male infertility. Such genetic conditions may be inherited or caused by environmental assaults. Inherited disorders can genetically impair fertility.

Examples include the following:

Cystic fibrosis patients often have missing or obstructed vas deferens (the tubes that carry sperm) and hence a low sperm count.

Klinefelter syndrome patients carry two X and one Y chromosomes (the norm is one X and one Y), which leads to the destruction of the lining of the seminiferous tubules in the testicles during puberty, although most other male physical attributes are unimpaired.

Kartagener syndrome, a rare disorder that is associated with a reversed position of the major organs, also includes immotile cilia (hair-like cells in lungs and sinuses that have a structure similar to the tails of sperm). Germ cells may also be affected by this condition.

Environmental Assaults

Over exposure to environmental assaults (toxins, chemicals, infections) can reduce sperm count either by direct effects on testicular function or on the hormone systems, although the extent of the effect and specific environmental assaults involved are often controversial. Some chemicals that affect sperm production men are : Oxygen-Free Radicals, Estrogen emulation pesticidal chemicals (DDT, aldrin, dieldrin, PCPs, dioxins, and furans ), plastic softening chemicals like Phthalates, hydrocarbons (ethylbenzene, benzene, toluene, and xylene)

Exposure to Heavy Metals.

Chronic exposure to heavy metals such as lead, cadmium, or arsenic may affect sperm production and most often cause a reduced production in otherwise healthy males. Trace amounts of these metals in semen seem to inhibit the function of enzymes contained in the acrosome, the membrane that covers the head of the sperm.

Radiation Treatment.

Radiation treatments and x-rays affect any rapidly dividing cell, so cells that produce sperm are quite sensitive to radiation damage. Cells exposed to significant levels of radiation may take up to two years to resume normal sperm production, and, in severe circumstances, may never recover.

Low Semen Levels

A reduced amount of ejaculated semen (less than 0.5 milliliters per sample) may be caused by a structural abnormality in the tubes transporting the sperm.

A varicocele is a varicose vein in the cord that connects to the testicle. (A varicose vein is one that is abnormally enlarged and twisted.) Varicoceles are found in 15% to 20% of all men and in 25% to 40% of infertile men. It is not clear how they affect fertility, or even if they do at all.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Balance is key to good health

Posted by Neill Abayon

One of the fundamental concepts for achieving balance is the pursuit of harmony within the body and with the environment.
There are regiments you can apply to everyday life, extracted and distilled from the best Asian ways to achieve balance. You need not hie off to a place as remote and exotic as a Himalayan spa to recharge and rejuvenate the body, mind and spirit. This can be achieved right there in the city or in the privacy of your own home or any accessible place of retreat and relaxation.
Instead of seeking treatment, focus on a natural way of being that will allow you to become stronger and healthier

Often, we are too hard on ourselves. In daily life, an office worker will stay on the job an extra hours just to finish the paperwork even if he/she is feeling hunger pangs. An executive will skip breakfast just to make it to that important meeting or burn up his/her inner reserves by overloading the day with back-to-back meetings with hardly time to catch his/her breath. Worst of all, a businessman will bring the office-and paper work-to his house. Sounds familiar?

Begin by being kind to yourself.
1. Leave the office where it is. Don't take it home with you. The home is a place for relaxation.
Keep it that way.

2. Listen to the call of nature. If you are hungry, eat. If you have an urgent need to rush to the toilet, by all means go. Do not postpone the important or the inevitable.

3. In-between meetings, deliberations and negotiations, give yourself time for relaxation, enough to do this three-minute breathing exercise: Close your eyes. Sit back. Be comfortable. Recall your favorite music. Hear it in your head. Breath slowly. Exhale gently. Shut out the world. "Listen" to the song till the end.

4. Have five sips of water to energize yourself.

5. Face the world with a smile.

According to traditional Chinese medicine, everything in the universe consist of the yin and the yang.
Yin is feminine, cold, quiet, static, dark and wet while Yang is masculine, dynamic, bright, warm and dry. Without yin, there is no Yang and vice versa. True health can only be achieved if they are in harmony within us.
This equilibrium can be destroyed or disrupted by many internal influence (emotional upheavals like sorrow, worry, grief, fear, shock and, yes, even extrewme joy) and external forces (cold, fire, wind, dampness, heat, fire and dryness).

Considered by the scholars as the oldest healing practice in the world, Ayurveda (ayur-life, veda-knowledge) and its belief centers on being one. The vibrations of creation produced five elements: space, water, fire heat that were reduced to three forces-vata=air, pitta=fire, kapha=earth. It ios the balance of these doshas that rules one's constitution.
What dosha type are you?> Vata = artistic, nervous/high-strung; Pitta = aggressive, hot-tempered, driven; Kapha = loving, affectionate, caring but prone to weight gain. All individuals possess these characteristics but one dosha will be dominant.

Vata-calming oils: almond, castor, olive, sesame, wheat germ;
Pitta-cooling oils: coconut, almond, sunflower, sandalwood;
Kapha-invigorating oils: canola, corn, mustard.

Warm without overheating your chosen oil. Rub onto your body from head to toe for 15 minutes. Take a hot shower. Feel relaxed and be still for a few minutes.

Note: Dosha preparations are available at Body Shop.

Get 2-3 cups of plain yoghurt. Coat your body from head to foot. Leave on for 10 minutes. Get a towelette and rub your body briskly. Rinse in cool water.

No treatment, no matter how simple or sophisticated, can help you feel better if your mind is not at peace. So, open your mind and allow the healing forces of nature to give you your much desired balance.
Love and light!

Saturday, July 19, 2008


Posted by Neill Abayon

While many new medications for alzheimer's disease are being tested,donepezil hydrochloride (Aricept) recently received approval by the U.S. food and Drug Administration. The drug approved to be safe and effective in clinical trials of patients with mild to moderate severed disease.
Like tecrine hydrochloride (cognex) - the first medication approved for alzheimer's - donepezil hydrochloride blocks the breakdown of acetychlorine, a critical brain chemical associated with memory. But the new drug appears to have fewer side effects than tacrine, which can elevate liver enzymes, requiring regular blood testing.
Still other research, focuses on promising therapies that might delay onset of the disease. Recent studies suggest that nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as Ibuprofen, or the hormone estrogen might stave off Alzheimers. Also under investigation is vitamin E plus selegiline an antioxidant that boosts the brain chemical dopamine, and prednisone, a steroid that may have an NSAID-like effect.


Posted by Neill Abayon

Scientist at Sweden's Karolinska Institute have shown that a combination of nerve-implant techniques can restore partial use of the legs in rats whose spinal cords have been severed.
Henrich cheng, Lars Olson and Yihai Cao cut rat's spinal cord at chest level and removed a small segment. They then successfully grew new nerve connections across the gaps of the severed cords, restoring some motion and sensation of the animals paralyzed hind legs.
While the findings, reported in the journal science aren't immediately applicable to humans suffering from paralysis, they "nevertheless provides a strong basis for hope in the field" writes researcher Wise Young of New York University Medical Center. "The possibility of effective regenerative therapies for human spinal-cord injury is no longer a speculation but a realistic goal."


Written by Neill Abayon

Each year thousands of people suffer severe head trauma in car crashes or other accidents. Most such patients require long-term care, and so far, treatments have been disappointing new researchers at several hospital are testing whether they can help more patients recover fully by cooling them with ice water.
The idea is to lower body temperature enough to slow a person's metabolism, thereby slowing a cascade of chemical reactions that immediately follow head injury and cause the death of brain cells. During hypothermic - or cooling - therapy, patients are covered with cool blankets attached to pumps that provide a constant infusion of water. The body temperature is lowered in four to six hours to about 33 degrees celsius - low enough to slow metabolism but not so low to cause life-threatening complications, like irregular heartbeat. Patients remain in this state for 24 or 28 hours.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Are You Allergic to Your Deodorant?

Posted by Neill Abayon

People use deodorant because they want to escape from odor. They don't like to smell sweaty to others. They place the deodorant under their arms and when they perspire, there is a much more pleasant odor to behold. But, what happens to the user, if the deodorant is not good for them, what if they have an allergy to their deodorant?

Having an allergy would mean that you would probably see some visible signs such as: red rash, bumps, or inflamed bumps. If there is anything out of the ordinary occurring with the usage of your deodorant; that may also be an allergic reaction you are having.

This does not mean that you will have to stop using your deodorant altogether. It simply means you need to watch it carefully and stop using it for awhile to be sure. If you are wanting to be sure that the signs you have experienced are to your deodorant, you may have to seek the help of your allergist.

After carefully testing you, your doctor may say you just need to change brands. Yours may be too harsh to your body. If after changing brands, you still experience some problems, there are other alternatives.

You may decide to try some talc or some baby powder. Both will leave you fresh, and make you smell much nicer after a sporting event. Just place some powder or talc under your arms and it will also help eliminate the amount of perspiration that you are having.

Allergies can be a result of a number of things. It may not be your deodorant at all, but the soap you are bathing in, or washing your clothes in. When you have exercised and are sweaty, the chemicals used in the washing powder may react on your skin.

If you have to give up your deodorant, remember there are many other choices available to you. So, check out the other alternatives, and stay cool.

Toxic chemical levels finally dropping in Arctic food animals, new study shows

Posted by Neill Abayon

After decades of concern about southern pollutants poisoning traditional foods that northern aboriginals depend on, a new government study suggests levels of toxic chemicals in a wide range of animals across the Arctic are finally dropping.

The study, the first large-scale attempt in a decade to measure contaminants in common Arctic food animals, found carcinogens such as PCBs and other toxins derived from pesticides sprayed in the south have largely levelled off or have begun declining.

"Organochlorines, like DDT or chlordane or toxaphene or industrial chemicals like PCB, are declining," said project leader Laurie Chan of the University of Northern British Columbia. "That's good news."

However, the study found that mercury, probably from the increasing use of coal in power generation around the globe, remains stubborn and is even rising in some animals.

Still, Chan said, the falling organochlorine levels are proof that international agreements on limiting the use of toxic chemicals can produce real improvements in food safety.

"It seems that the Stockholm Convention is having some effect," Chan said.

That convention - heavily pushed by Canada - came into effect in 2004 and limited the use of the so-called "dirty dozen" chemicals pushed into the Arctic and concentrated there by global air currents.

At one time, Canada's Inuit had some of the highest PCB levels in the world, up to 10 times the levels found in southern Canada. The chemical was even found in the breast milk of Inuit mothers.

A 2003 study found subtle but statistically significant nervous system and behavioural changes in Inuit babies that may be linked to PCBs.

But now, PCB levels in beluga, narwhal, walrus and ringed seal have fallen by an average of 43 per cent since 1997. Although it varies in different parts of the Arctic, the amount of the chemical that Inuivialuit or Inuit people are exposed to has dropped by an average of 20 per cent over the last decade.

Similarly, human exposure to toxaphene - an insecticide that can damage the lungs, nervous system and kidneys - has fallen an average of one-third across the Arctic.

The results from Chan's group, which are currently being prepared for publication in a scientific journal, echoed a smaller study released last fall.

That study found average PCB levels in the blood of pregnant women from 14 communities in the northwestern Northwest Territories fell 24 per cent between 2000 and 2007.

Mercury remains a problem. Levels of the toxic metal increased 42 per cent in ringed seal flesh, although the average exposure increase for humans was marginal.

"We don't see any decrease in mercury across the board," Chan said.

"The major source of mercury is air pollution, from coal-fired power generation. We know that is increasing all the time."

The study is good news for aboriginal people in the North, many whom still depend on food they harvest from the land and sea. A 2006 survey of 45 communities across the Canadian North suggested that between 20 and 30 per cent of the diet of aboriginal northerners consists of so-called country food.

Nutritionists say such foods are often healthier than the highly processed - and highly expensive - foods available in northern groceries.

Still, Chan acknowledges there's still more work to do. His research, for example, didn't include caribou, which many northerners eat on a near-daily basis.

A comprehensive health survey of all coastal Inuit communities is underway which will measure actual contaminant blood levels. That study, which is being done by researchers on the Coast Guard icebreaker CCG Amundsen, is complete for Nunavut and the results are expected next summer.

A similar survey in communities on the north coast of the Northwest Territories as well as Labrador will be conducted this summer.


Study finds arsenic threats in Southeast Asia

Posted by: Neill Abayon

From ANI

Washington, July 14: A new model, developed by Eawag researchers, has shown that the contamination of groundwater with arsenic poses a risk to the health of millions of people, especially in the densely populated river deltas of Southeast Asia.

Till date, no method was available for identifying high-risk areas without conducting costly sampling campaigns, but now, the new model allows vulnerable areas to be pinpointed using existing data on geology and soil properties.

The new method has also allowed researchers to detect high-risk areas in regions where groundwater studies had not previously been conducted, such as in Myanmar and on Sumatra.

Arsenic is a geogenic contaminant, deriving from natural sources, which is dissolved in groundwater.

The team, led by geologist Lenny Winkel and environmental chemist Michael Berg, has described the method that enables high-risk areas to be identified relatively easily, without the need for expensive and time-consuming groundwater analysis.

For this purpose, researchers compiled existing geological data from Bangladesh, Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam and Sumatra (Indonesia) to produce a uniformly classified map.

The data related only to surface sediments and soil properties; surprisingly, this combination of data permits sufficiently accurate conclusions to be drawn concerning chemical and physical conditions in groundwater.

Then, the researchers studied the statistical relations between 30 surface parameters (geological, hydrological and climate data) and arsenic concentrations, and finally incorporated the eight most relevant variables into a logistic regression model.

In particular, young river deposits with organic rich sediments proved to be indicators of groundwater arsenic contamination.

This is apparent from the maps in which the probabilities calculated for elevated arsenic concentrations are presented in a graphical form.

Verification of the model using more than 1750 available groundwater data points from the Bengal, Mekong and Red River deltas showed that the predictions accorded well with reality.

However, in areas assigned a low risk by the model, the risk cannot be assumed to be zero.

"There is no such thing," Science Daily quoted Berg, as telling Nature Geoscience.

Berg added that, ultimately, even a refined model, e.g. including more data from deeper rock strata, could not serve as a substitute for analysis of water samples.

"But thanks to the maps, governments, local authorities or aid agencies can tell very quickly where it might be problematic to sink a well," he said.

The findings from Southeast Asia are part of the Water Resource Quality (WRQ) project, an Eawag research programme studying the occurrence of geogenic contaminants in groundwater worldwide.

The study is published in the journal Nature Geoscience.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

300-year-old Ginseng sold 3M Yuan in China

Posted by Neill Abayon

The 366 grams wild ginseng was found in Changbai Mountain (Changbaishan) in July 2007. The value of a wild ginseng is often determined by its age, shape and ‘completeness’.

Ginseng is a widely use herb in Chinese and Korean medicine for centuries. The popularity of ginseng is growing worldwide in recent decades, as studies have proven its medical value.

Most of the ginsengs these days are cultivated, but wild ginseng is commonly believed to have better medical value. A good piece of wild ginseng could worth thousands of dollars, and in this case… a whopping $400,000!

Does Your Skin Sag?

Posted by Neill Abayon

What really is 'anti -aging' all about ?

Most magazines would have you believe that all you have to do to keep "Father Time" from your door, is to cover yourself with cream. I don't know how many women find that this is the answer, but putting cream on your face certainly cannot do any harm.

I do believe that you are a product of your gene pool, if your mother and grandmother had good skin,then it is likely that this asset gets passed down the generations.

As an "older woman" myself I often wish that I had taken better care of my skin when I was younger.As a teenager of course, I never thought that I would change,skin was just something you had to wash or you got in trouble.

I have tried many different products in many different price ranges,creams to lotions etc and I must say I have not noticed a lot of benefits. I do think however, that mentally I feel better thinking that these treatments are working and therefore making me more confident in my appearance.

My mother always told me to rinse my face after cleansing, with hot water and then to splash it with cold water.She had beautiful skin even when she was in her eighties,so I really think ( now too late)that I should have followed her advice!

I would still recommend this as a nightly beauty routine,as the hot water opens the pores to let any dirt out and then the cold water closes them. It is also a very invigorating feeling.

I have at least one pet peeve when it comes to advertisers of anti- aging products. The women in the ads are nearly always very young, so I would like to see older women using these products, this would relate better to the subject of the advert. Maybe this is just jealousy on my part!!!

Feeling young is as good a tonic as anything out there,we can't change our image , unless we artificially do so,so we should be happy to have our health and to be able to enjoy life.

Eating right and drinking lots of water goes a long way towards the inner"anti-aging" which in turn reflects itself in our outer image.

It is too bad that in our society we are judged on our appearance and not on our experience.So many older people have so much to give to this world, but unless one is young and attractive, does anybody listen ?

"Beauty Foods" Can Help Slow Down the Aging Process

Posted by Neill Abayon

Anti-aging has been a very hot topic over the last 15 years, and we’ve made great discoveries about how to turn back the clock with natural hormones and cosmetic procedures. But who would have guessed that the most powerful way of prolonging your youth and enhancing your health was with “Beauty Cuisine”?

Beauty Cuisine is food which not only nourishes but strengthens the body, slows and reverses the aging process (entropy), and rejuvenates our cells allowing for a beautiful body inside and out. Beauty food was a natural part of our evolutionary diet as Paleolithic humans, but has become rare with our quest for fast foods with a long shelf life. The foundation of true youth, health, and beauty lies within consuming the right foods daily. Ideally, we need to pick foods which are fresh, unrefined, nutrient dense, organic, pH balanced, as well as high in enzymatic value, antioxidants, and phytochemicals.

Here are seven important qualities found in “beauty foods”:
1) A low glycemic index rating. Those with high ratings promote insulin secretion, a hormone which when in excess is known to age and destroy the body. For example, high fiber and low sugar foods are lower on the glycemic index and are more desirable.

2) Anti-inflammatory properties. Our most common ailments such as diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, heart disease, and bowel disease are caused by inflammation. Consuming spices such as ginger, tumeric, cayenne, and oregano, as well as foods including salmon, garlic, and blueberries, have powerful anti-inflammatory properties.

3) An alkaline or neutral pH. Fast foods and processed, refined foods are acidic and promote deterioration and aging. Yet, foods such as green vegetables, salads, sprouts, watercress, mustard greens, seaweed, sesame seeds, and berries are alkaline and rejuvenating.

4) High enzymatic content. Many illnesses occur as a result of lacking enzymes. They are critical in our food for digestion and assimilation of nutrients, yet they are sorely lacking in our packaged and microwave prepared foods. High enzyme foods are energizing and invigorating, allowing the body to heal and recover significantly faster from injury or aging skin cells and organs. Foods high in enzymes include fresh raw vegetables and berries, as well as raw cheeses, yogurt, and wild game.

5) High mineral content. Foods such as arugula, hemp seeds, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, broccoli sprouts, raw honey, aloe vera, papaya, berries, and burdock root are rich in minerals including silicon, biotin, magnesium, sulfur, zinc, and manganese, all known for their importance for strong hair, skin, and nails.

6) High Syntropy value. Stress, toxins, unhealthy food, and lack of fresh air and sun increase the aging process. They create destruction and disorder or entropy in our bodies, and few things actually work in direct opposition. Syntropy is an order-enhancing energy force stored in food which actually neutralizes entropy and releases the beautifying power in food from the sun. Thus, eating “beauty” foods results in a more youthful energy, body, and mind.

7) Naturally colorful. The vibrant colors of natural foods indicate their wide spectrum of antioxidants, phytochemicals, and nutrients which protect, nourish, and heal the body from disease and aging. From the deep blue blueberries, to the red sockeye salmon, choose a variety of colors each day to optimize your intake of beautifying foods.

“Beauty Cuisine” similar to Paleolithic nutrition, is undeniably the most important new trend for healthy living. It will first stimulate your taste buds and then support your body to eliminate toxins, rejuvenate skin cells, strengthen organs, and increase overall vitality, health, and appearance. Humans evolved on these highly energetic restorative foods for the last two million years, and in order to continue thriving, we must make it a priority to keep consuming the right foods.

Sperm count concerns specialists

Posted by Neill Abayon

Two years ago when fertility specialist Gil Wilshire came to Columbia from his practice in New Jersey, one detail jumped out at him. His male patients in Mid-Missouri were much less fertile than those he treated on the East Coast.

"Nobody I saw had a normal sperm count," said Wilshire, a reproductive endocrinologist at Mid-Missouri Reproductive Medicine and Surgery Inc. "It took about two or three weeks until a normal semen analysis came through the door. I kept asking myself, ‘Am I in a hellhole of toxins?’ "

Danny Schust, another endocrinologist who arrived here from Harvard University in 2006, had an almost identical experience. He was accustomed to treating men with low sperm counts, but those he saw in Missouri all had low counts.

"I went to" an andrologist at the Missouri Center for Reproductive Medicine and Fertility. "And I said, ‘Are you guys doing something different here because I never see normal sperm counts?’ " Schust recalled. "And she was like, ‘No, this is Missouri sperm.’ "

Their stories are part of a chorus of local people who work in the field of male fertility asking questions about low sperm counts in Mid-Missouri. Some suspect pesticides have percolated into ground water, but no definitive link is known. They say they are frustrated by the lack of attention to the problem and the lack of funding for further research.

"We don’t see very many normal samples. ... It’s completely a mystery," said Erma Drobnis, the andrologist working at Columbia Regional Hospital with Schust. She said in recent years, she and other researchers have tried repeatedly to get funding from the National Institutes of Health to examine the problem, without success.

The problem is not new.

In 1999, a group of researchers including Drobnis were working on a study comparing semen quality across major metropolitan areas, suspecting that sperm counts were dropping worldwide. They selected New York, Minneapolis and Los Angeles for their study. But reviewers of the grant application recommended adding add another, more rural town. They selected Columbia.

Researchers believed that including Columbia would serve as a baseline by which to judge the other cities. More rural settings, so the theory goes, tend to have fewer toxic pollutants such as smog in the air that impact reproductive health.

So researchers were caught off-guard when the Columbia sperm samples turned out to be significantly lower than samples from three other cities. The sample of Columbia men had average sperm counts of 58.7 million sperm per milliliter, or about 57 percent of those in New York. All cities studied were considered within the normal range, but Columbia pushes at the lower end.

"We were very surprised," said Shanna Swan, the lead researcher on the study who is now at the University of Rochester in New York.

Because the men in the Missouri study were from different backgrounds, variable ages and occupations, and they had lived in the area for both short and long periods of time, scientists labeled the cause for the low sperm counts "environmental." They said drinking water was the most likely cause.

After getting the initial results, scientists subjected the sperm samples from 50 men to a battery of new tests to look for pesticides. They found "significant" links between three common pesticides and low sperm counts in the Missouri men and possible associations with two other pesticides.

This summer, Swann will get the results from a follow-up test by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which tested 400 other men for the same pesticides.

"If we see something similar in a larger data set, then people will really have to pay attention to it," Swann said. "We don’t know if it’s the water. We suspect that, but we really can’t say that until we have more information."

At the request of the Tribune, Barry Kirchhoff, city water plant superintendent, reviewed the findings. He said pesticides that show up in men’s sperm samples did not come from Columbia drinking water. He said he almost never sees restricted pesticides in Columbia water.

"We’re drawing water from 15 different wells scattered out over areas two miles wide and four miles long," Kirchhoff said. "So if it turns up in source water, it’s not going to be here one day, gone the next."

But one of the three pesticides that showed a significant association with low sperm counts also was found in 24 of the samples - an insecticide called diazinon, which is not regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency in drinking water. In 2004, diazinon was banned from residential use, though it is still lawfully used in some agriculture. Another herbicide used for weed control - metolachlor - showed up in 34 of the Missouri semen samples. It also is on the EPA’s list of candidates for designation as a contaminant.

Researchers are not exclusively pointing fingers at water. They said any number of factors such as exposure to pesticides on farms, eating fruits and vegetables or even tobacco use could be the cause.

Drobnis said she trusts Columbia water. She doesn’t know the reason for the low sperm counts; she just knows it’s a problem she has seen ever since she arrived here to practice medicine in 1994.

"Environmentalists have said it’s usually not looking at one chemical, it’s when you combine everything that you get the problems," Drobnis said. "It’s the whole picture taken together" that "can end up giving you a reduction in health."


Beware of diseases as rainy season sets in

By Bernadette Parco, Chris Ligan
Cebu Daily News
First Posted 02:48pm (Mla time) 05/31/2007

CEBU, Philippines—With school opening in just a few days and the rainy season just around the corner, the health department is urging parents to take steps to protect their children from diseases.

Rennan Cimafranca, epidemiological nurse of the Department of Health in Central Visayas (DOH-7), yesterday said the rains usually bring with it many diseases, such as influenza and leptospirosis.

He urged the liberal intake of vitamin supplements to raise resistance levels, and to always be ready with protective gear, such as umbrellas and rain coats.

Cimafranca, assigned to the DOH-7’s Regional Epidemiological Unit (RESU), said the frequent change in weather that comes with the rainy season usually render people susceptible to diseases.

The RESU notes an increase in the number of patients suffering from coughs, colds and fever during the rainy season.

Leptospirosis is also commonly reported, he said. The disease, commonly found in the urine of animals, is transmitted to humans by ingestion or contact with contaminated water.

The disease causes jaundice, nephritis, and the inflamation of the spleen. Symptoms include high fever, severe headache, chills, aching muscles and vomiting.

Cimafranca said unattended cases could worsen and lead to meningitis, as well as respiratory and renal disease.

People who exhibit symptoms should seek medical attention immediately, Cimafranca said.

“The disease is common in places with poor sanitary conditions and affects people who walk around barefoot and wade in flood waters,” said Cimafranca.

This fact does not escape some informal settlers.

Gil Vega, operations officer of the Squatter Prevention, Encroachment and Elimination Division (Speed) of the Cebu City yesterday said that several informal settlers living along flood-prone areas and drainage canals in barangay Duljo-Fatima had voluntarily demolished their shanties after being urged by the city government to do so.

Vega said the actions of the affected residents in sitios Bohol and Sto. Niño surprised Speed personnel, who were expecting owners of shanties targeted for demolition to put up a resistance as with most demolition operations the agency had conducted in the past.

“We couldn’t believe they themselves destroyed their own illegal structures. We usually have a hard time carrying out a demolition,” Vega said.

Vega said he learned that it was even the informal settlers who asked barangay officials to tell Speed to help carry out a demolition.

The residents complained that stagnant water in the drainage system near their homes had caused skin diseases in children and served as a breeding ground for mosquitoes.

Some residents admitted that it was their own structures that hampered the flow of drainage, causing water to stagnate.

Residents also feared being swept away by floods as water levels had risen on several occasions since rains started to get more frequent two weeks ago.

Most of the structures demolished were extensions of larger shanties – restrooms, kitchens, and containment for pigs and chickens.

More than 20 structures were demolished by their owners yesterday, with the help of Speed.