Tomatoes boost male fertility

Last updated 10:38 06/05/2014
Tomatoes
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NATURAL BOOST: Want some tomatoes for dinner? Better get to the supermarket before everyone else does.

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Infertile men searching for a bedroom boost are being urged to try a fruity alternative.

A key compound in tomatoes could increase a man's fertility by up to 70 per cent, according to a study reported in the Daily Mail.

The research found lycopene, the nutrient that gives tomatoes their bright red colour, could boost men's sperm count. 

The report, which was published by the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio, reviewed 12 studies by different groups around the world. 

All of them showed that lycopene improved sperm count and swimming speed, and reduced the number of abnormal sperm.

Ashok Agarwal, director of the Cleveland Clinic's Centre for Reproductive Medicine, said it was part of a general pattern showing lycopene benefited men's reproductive organs. 

Other studies have shown the nutrient reduces diseases of the prostate, the gland which makes sperm, and may slow down or even halt the progress of prostate cancer.

Agarwal's team has started a trial giving lycopene supplements to men with unexplained infertility, with the results expected in 2015.

A support group for infertile people in the United Kingdom was also embarking on a year-long survey to see if giving a daily high-lycopene supplement will lead to more pregnancies.

Karen Veness, a spokeswoman for Britain's Infertility Network, said the new findings were hugely positive for infertile men.

"They fit in with message we are trying to get out there and we're very keen to do an observational study to see if we can help men.

"There's an assumption that infertility is a female issue because women are the ones who have the babies, but half the time it is down to problems with sperm function or quality."

Simon Fishel, a co-founder of the world's first IVF clinic in England, said work in Britain has also shown lycopene reduces damage to sperm but it was too early to say if it could boost pregnancy rates.

"In some cases it leads to a lowering of the rate of damaged sperm and in other cases you see an improvement in sperm movement.

"The big difficulty is proving the next stage which is higher rates of pregnancy. You would need a very big study of very similar men."

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