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The #1 Worst Drink for Men, New Study Suggests

Nutrition and reproduction researchers found a single serving of this beverage can affect male function.

If you've gotten a little lax with your diet habits lately, it may be time to reel it in—and not just because of your weight. A new study, which is the largest of its kind to date, suggests that one particular type of beverage has the power to significantly affect men's capacity to reproduce. Here's what a team of nutrition and men's health experts, several of them from Harvard, have discovered in a study of nearly 3,000 young men.

With help from nutrition and epidemiology scientists in Scandinavia, researchers from Harvard Medical School, the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, and Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston measured 10 years' worth of fertility data from the specimens of 2,935 healthy young men with a median age 19 years old. According to a study soon to be published in the peer-reviewed Human Reproduction journal, the researchers' goal was to understand the effects of sweetened beverages on semen quality and reproductive hormone levels.

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As part of their method, the researchers asked the participants to self-report their intake of four types of drinks: Sugar-sweetened beverages, artificially sweetened beverages (such as diet soda), energy drinks, and juice.

At the conclusion, the team found that consumption of sugar-sweetened drinks was associated with, as they report, "lower sperm concentration, lower total sperm count, and a lower ratio of serum inhibin-B/FSH." (Serum inhibin-B/FSH is a marker of sperm production.)

In particular, the young men who most frequently drank a 7.5-ounce serving of sugar-sweetened beverage each day saw a 13.2 million per milliliter lower median sperm concentration than non-consumers. For reference, the Mayo Clinic states: "Normal sperm densities range from 15 million to greater than 200 million sperm per milliliter of semen."

The study's authors say other lifestyle factors that may have impacted the results should be taken into consideration. But, if their findings speak to you, it may be time to dial back on those sugary drinks.

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Krissy Gasbarre
Krissy is a senior news editor at Eat This, Not That!, managing morning and weekend news related to nutrition, wellness, restaurants and groceries (with a focus on beverages), and more. Read more about Krissy
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