Does Pollution Shrink Your Testicles?  ---
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December 21, 2016

By Susan Callahan, Associate Editor and Featured Columnist

In 1983, scientists in Norway began to study the polar bears of the
frozen plains of East Greenland to monitor how pollution was affecting
them. This was hard work involving enduring many months under
brutal arctic conditions.  By 1999, the scientists began to notice
something strange.  As pollution levels increased in this once
most-pristine and unreachable part of Earth, the bodies of the bears
began to change.  One of the most surprising changes occurred in the
penises and testicles of male bears.

Over time, the sizes of the testes and the penises of  male polar bears
had begun to shrink.

Since the discovery of this surprising finding from the polar bear
studies, scientists have noticed similar changes occurring in other
species.  Otters, too, showed shrinkage in testes and penises. The
shrinkage of the male genitalia produced the expected effects --- fewer
polar bears and otters were born.

As go the bears and the otters, so go we humans.  Increasing evidence
is emerging that environmental pollutants are, over time, shrinking the
genitalia of men.  

We decided to take a look at the evidence linking pollutants and their
effects of the size of male testicles and penises.  Does pollution shrink
your penis? Does pollution cause your testicles to shrink?

Which Pollutants Are Suspected?

Two decades of polar bear studies have been conducted by a large
team of scientists led by Dr. Christian Sonne from the Faculty of Science
and Technology, Aarhus University in Denmark  and Dr. Robert Letcher
of the National Wildlife Research Centre, Carleton University in Ottawa,

The arctic regions of the Earth are like the last stop on a train. The
currents  of the oceans surrounding each of the continents carry refuse
and pollutants. Most of the larger contaminants drift toward the shores
of populated continents. But a small amount reaches the arctic either
directly or indirectly. The way that pollution reaches the arctic indirectly
is because it is eaten or absorbed by fish, which are then eaten by
larger animals up the food chain such as seals.  Eventually, the pollution
reaches the largest animals of the food chain ---bears ---when they eat
the seals.  

As I often like to say --- what pollutes your food pollutes you.

The list of contaminants that have entered the food chain which lead to
shrinkage of male testicles and penises is long.

We have gathered the list of only those contaminants which scientists
have linked definitively to either directly shrinking genitalia or to
disrupting the normal balance of sex hormones.

Polychlorinated biphenyls Attack Your Testicles and Ability to Produce
Healthy Sperm

Polychlorinated biphenyls (called "PCBs") are organic materials used in
manufacturing. PCBs do not degrade easily once they are in the
environment which means that, for all intents and purposes, PCBs are

They have no color, no taste and no smell, which means that if they
enter the food chain, animals are unlikely to detect them before they do
their damage.

And their damage is devastating.  PCBs damage almost every organ
system in your body including your liver, your lungs, your brain, your
thyroid, your immune system and, yes, your genitalia.

Lab animals exposed to PCBs saw their sperm count plummet,
according to a 1998 joint report by and the U.S. Environmental
Protection Agency and the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease
Registry(ATSDR). The report was led by Dr. James Olson of the
University of Buffalo and Dr. Obaid Faroon of ATSDR.

In studies of monkeys, those exposed to PCBs had a harder time
conceiving. The offspring of these monkeys had lower birth weights
and more of these births were stillborn.

PCBs, also lower testosterone levels, according to a 2010 study from
University of Michigan School of Public Health. PCB's also reduce the
"motility" of sperm, which is their ability to swim and impregnate.

Since 1977, PCBs have been banned in the United States. But we
continue to be exposed to them because they do not bio-degrade easily.

PCBs  were used up until the 1970's in electrical equipment, so you will
find them in old air conditioners, washers, dryers, refrigerators,
flourescent lighting, dehumidifiers, and freezers.

Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals Shrink the Size of The Penis

Scientists from Cardiff University in the UK studies dead otters collected
over a 10 year period. What they found was that over time, the size of
the penis bone had shrunken significantly.  The shrinkage was
correlated with the total amount of endocrine disrupting chemicals
found in their bodies.

The otters also had undescended testicles and cysts on the tubes that
carry their sperm.

Lead Exposure Shrinks Testicles and Suppresses Sperm Production

Scientists have long known that exposing animals to lead devastates
their reproductive systems.  Lead exposure reduces sperm density and
testosterone production, according to a 2010 study from Banasthali
University in India.

Can Coriander Herb Help?

But this study also pointed us to a possible solution. Lab mice who had
suffered testicular damage from lab exposure which later were fed the
common herb coriander experienced a reversal of the damage.

Coriander acts as a metal chelation, meaning it lowers the amount of
metals in your blood stream.

Add coriander to salads, use it as a meat rub, and add it to soups.

Cadmium Exposure Causes Testicular  Damage and Lowers Sperm

Cadmium is a naturally-occurring blue metal found in the Earth's crust.
You find cadmium in the soil and around your house in cigarette smoke,
the air you breathe, and even in your fruits and vegetables, according
to the Delaware Department of Health and Social Services, Division of
Public Health.

Cadmium exposure damages your testicles and lowers sperm
production, several studies have found, including a 2008 study from
the  University of Ibadan in Nigeria.

Can Onions and Garlic Help Reduce the Damage?

The scientists from Ibadan University discovered that onions and garlic
contain compounds that protect testicles and sperm from  damage
caused by cadmium exposure.  

Lab animals were first pretreated with onion and garlic extracts for a
week and then exposed to cadmium for three weeks.  The amount of
testicular cell damage and sperm damage from the three-week cadmium
exposure was significantly less than expected.

Dice onions and simmer them on low heat in extra virgin olive oil. Peel
and smash garlic cloves and add them to the mixture. This base can
then be added to soups, used in sauces for pasta, and used as a
topping for meats.


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Onions help protect testicular cells from
oxidative damage caused by pollution.