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A comparative study of zinc, copper, cadmium, and lead levels in fertile and infertile men

Stanwell-Smith, R.; Thompson, S.G.; Haines, A.P.; Ward, R.J.; Cashmore, G.; Stedronska, J.; Hendry, W.F.

Fertility and Sterility 40(5): 670-677

1983


ISSN/ISBN: 0015-0282
PMID: 6628713
DOI: 10.1016/s0015-0282(16)47429-7
Accession: 004559802

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Eighty infertile men and 38 men of known fertility were studied for investigation of both the importance of zinc, copper, cadmium, and lead to fertility and the possible interrelationships between these trace elements. The infertile men had higher mean concentrations of plasma copper than those of proven fertility. The difference was statistically significant (P less than 0.01) but was of small magnitude (approximately 1.5 mumol mean difference). The concentrations of plasma zinc, erythrocyte zinc, whole blood lead and cadmium, and seminal plasma zinc and copper did not differ significantly between infertile and fertile men. There was a significant positive relationship between sperm density and seminal plasma zinc concentration in the fertile, but not in the infertile, men. The infertile men with antisperm antibodies or counts greater than 20 million/ml had significantly higher mean levels of seminal plasma zinc than infertile men with oligospermia. The higher semen zinc in these two groups may reflect an abnormal fragility of the spermatozoa, resulting in the release of zinc, but the absence of significant overall differences between fertile and infertile men suggests that measurement of the concentration of zinc in plasma or zinc and copper in seminal plasma has little value in the routine investigation of infertility.

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