A decline in human sperm quality and quantity has been reported in numerous Western countries. This observation was also accompanied by an increase in urogenital malformations. The need for epidemiological studies dealing with unbiased populations in order to understand the causes of
these observations is obvious. In Switzerland, the large majority of young men are asked to attend a military camp to be drafted into the army. A few weeks before this camp, conscripts were contacted and invited to participate in a large national study on semen quality. The participation was
totally voluntary and anonymous. From September 2005 to June 2007, 770 volunteers filled out a questionnaire, underwent a clinical examination and provided sperm, blood and urine samples. Using self-rated health assessments, the observed cohort could be considered as healthy and no testicular
cancer was found. Moreover, the testicular volumes, measured using Prader's orchidometry and ultrasonography, were comparable to those already published for young male populations. The median sperm concentration was 47 × 106/ml, which is close to the concentration reported
in Denmark, known to have the highest incidence of testicular cancer in Europe. Statistically significant differences were observed between regions with a lower sperm concentration for men residing in the Alps (43 × 106/ml) and in the Zürich area (36 × 106/ml)
compared to men from West Plateau (54 × 106/ml) and from the Jura (54 × 106/ml). Such a regional discrepancy could be related to environmental factors, including endocrine disruptors. In order to confirm such regional differences more volunteers from the already
studied regions should be studied and other parts of the country should be investigated. The rather low sperm concentration of Swiss young volunteers should be considered as a national health issue and investigated further.
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Document Type: Research Article
May 1, 2008
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International Journal for Chemistry and Official Membership Journal of the Swiss Chemical Society (SCS) and its Divisions
CHIMIA, a scientific journal for chemistry in the broadest sense, is published 10 times a year and covers the interests of a wide and diverse readership. Contributions from all fields of chemistry and related areas are considered for publication in the form of Review Articles and Notes. A characteristic feature of CHIMIA are the thematic issues, each devoted to an area of great current significance.
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