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Environmental factors affecting your fertility: ionising and non-ionising radiation ENVIRONMENTAL FACTORS AFFECTING YOUR FERTILITY: IONISING AND NON-IONISING RADIATION
This type of radiation - which gives off charged particles called ions - is produced from X-rays. It has the power to change cells and can cause infertility and miscarriages.
The male testis is one of the most radio-sensitive tissues and must be carefully protected during routine X-rays. Studies have shown that even low doses of X-ray delivered directly to the testes can reduce the sperm count temporarily to zero. If the same dose is split up over time, instead of being given in one recovery of the sperm can take up to ten years. Clearly, men exposed to X-rays through their work are likely to have reduced sperm counts.
This does not create ions and is produced naturally by the sun. We are exposed to it every day through microwaves, radar, mobile phones, radio waves, televisions, computers, electric blankets, etc.
There have been lots of scary stories in the media about the dangers of mobile phones. It has been claimed that they can cause a harmful rise in blood pressure. Other research has found that regular users have more headaches. And there are concerns that mobile phones can cause 'hot spots' in the brain, with a possible link to brain tumours. But investigators have stressed that more research needs to be done.
Meanwhile, scientists at the University of Montpellier in France have found that chick embryos can be damaged by electromagnetic signals sent out by VDUs and televisions. When chick embryos were exposed to mobile phone radiation during the 21-day, incubation period there was a five-fold increase in chick deaths, which suggests that there might be an increased risk of miscarriage in humans. The possible increased risk of miscarriage and the effects on human male and female fertility have not yet been investigated.
The first microwaves went on sale in the UK in 1974 and now almost three-quarters of British households own a microwave oven. A microwave oven heats food by using high-frequency electromagnetic waves, similar to television. The molecules of the food agitate at over 2,000 times per second so that the food heats itself. The idea is that the metal oven is a sealed unit: microwaves cannot penetrate metal so they cannot escape. However, most of the health concerns have centered on the possibility that radiation could be leaking out during cooking and affecting fertility. There are also worries that food cooked in a microwave may be inherently changed in ways we are not yet aware of.
Because microwaving does not use water, vitamins which are water-soluble (like vitamin C) are conserved in the food. For example, potatoes keep 82 per cent of their vitamin ? when they are microwaved, as compared to 40 per cent when they are boiled.
But microwaving tends to destroy the fat-soluble vitamins, like vitamins A, D and E. Pumpkin seeds, which have valuable amounts of essential fatty acids, lose 46 per cent of these oils after 10 minutes of irradiation. These essential fatty acids are vital for both male and female fertility.
Microwave cooking also seems to destroy the cell walls of plant foods like vegetables. Studies on microwaved carrots and broccoli show that the molecular structure is deformed, whereas in conventional cooking the cell structure stays intact.
What this means is that the microwave process seems to encourage the production of free radicals (highly reactive chemical fragments which have been linked to cancer, coronary heart disease, rheumatoid arthritis and premature ageing).
At a time when you are aiming to increase your fertility by optimizing your health, anything that may compromise your health should be looked at carefully.
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