THE BLOG
06/17/2014 12:43 pm ET | Updated Aug 17, 2014

Soda Warning: May Be Hazardous to Your Sperm

California's Soda Warning Label Bill, SB 1000 (Monning), will make U.S. history if it passes. The warning label, which was designed by a panel of nationally-recognized public health experts, actually understates the risks associated with drinking sugary beverages. If SB 1000 passes, the label will read:

STATE OF CALIFORNIA SAFETY WARNING: Drinking beverages with added sugar(s) contributes to obesity, diabetes, and tooth decay.

I am a firm supporter of SB 1000 and thrilled that some of California's newspapers are understanding how vitally important this bill is. In addition to the issues of obesity, diabetes and tooth decay, which SB 1000 warns us about, there is strong scientific evidence linking sugary beverage consumption to heart attacks, high blood pressure, strokes, cancer and fatty liver disease. Now, a new health concern has been linked to sugary drinks.

Researchers at the University of Rochester studied the sperm of 189 healthy young men aged 18-22. Those who drank one or more sugary beverages a day had significantly lowered sperm motility. The research shows an association but does not prove causality.

For those not well-versed in the issue of sperm motility, Wikipedia claims that:

Sperm that do not properly "swim" will not reach the egg in order to fertilize it ... therefore assessing the fraction of a sperm population that is motile is perhaps the most widely used measure of semen quality. Insufficient sperm motility is a common cause of infertility.

The present study is the first of its kind to make the linkage in humans between sugary beverages and sperm quality. A study in mice found that male mice given sugary drinks sire 25 percent fewer offspring. Scientific certainty on this issue will require other research teams to replicate these findings. In the meantime, given the weight of the scientific evidence implicating sugary drinks in a plethora of illnesses, it seems prudent to lower our sugary drink consumption.

Will this be the straw that breaks the camel's back? Will it be a concern about male sterility that finally brings us to our senses about the dangers of sugary beverage consumption? When we learned that the Marlboro Man was impotent, more of us stopped smoking.

The ads for sugary drinks are loaded with images suggesting that the drinks produce happiness and enhance one's sex appeal. Will the science undermine the happy, sexy image and help us to remember the real adverse health consequences? That may depend on how willing we are to make this information mainstream.

Spread the word! Soda rots our teeth, makes us fat, fattens our livers, blocks our arteries, and raises our blood pressure. It may also interfere with our fertility.