Food and Behaviour Research

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The most common vices of men can damage fertility and the health of the next generation

Fullston T, McPherson NO, Zander-Fox D, Lane M (2017) J Endocrinol.  2017 Aug; 234(2): F1-F6. doi: 10.1530/JOE-16-0382. 

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Animal and human studies demonstrate that acquired paternal traits can impair both a male's fertility and the health of his offspring, including advanced age, smoking, stress, trauma, under-nutrition, infection, toxin exposure, and obesity. Many of these factors lead to similar changes to neurological, behavioural, and/or metabolic functioning in offspring.

The molecular mechanisms that both respond to the paternal environment and act to transmit traits to offspring are beginning to emerge. This review focuses on three vices of men (alcohol consumption, overweight/obesity, and tobacco smoking) that damage fertility and pose risks to offspring health. These vices are not only the three most prevalent but are also leading risk factors for death and disability adjusted life years (DALYs) worldwide.

Moreover, given that these vices are predominantly self-inflicted, interventions aimed at mitigating their consequences are readily identified.