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    AMI Skeptical of Study's Linking Beef Consumption to Male Infertility

    WASHINGTON, D.C. - The American Meat Institute here is urging consumers to view with skepticism a new study on the impact of beef consumption during pregnancy, and sperm concentration and fertility in adult males.

    WASHINGTON, D.C. - The American Meat Institute here is urging consumers to view with skepticism a new study on the impact of beef consumption during pregnancy, and sperm concentration and fertility in adult males.

    In a report that appears in the journal "Human Reproduction," author Dr. Shanna H. Swan of the University of Rochester Medical Center identified anabolic steroids used to fatten cattle, pesticides, and other environmental contaminants as possible causes of fertility problems among male subjects.

    Randy Huffman, AMI Foundation's v.p./scientific affairs, said consumers should view the report "with a giant dose of skepticism. In conducting this study, adult men who had already conceived children were told to ask their mothers what they ate decades earlier during pregnancy. It is a widely accepted that food recall can be notoriously poor from even a day or a week before, let alone multiple decades," said Huffman, adding that the study is "absolutely absurd" based on the recall of women's beef consumption patterns 20, 30 or 40 years ago.

    Huffman said "the most glaring fault with this study is the purely speculative conclusion that certain chemical components of beef were the cause of associations observed between the questionnaire responses and the count of sperm in the male subjects."

    The study does not include any laboratory analysis of the compounds suggested to be contained in beef, he said, "much less the beef that may have been consumed by the mothers decades ago. To conclude that some undetected compound is the cause for an association seen in these data is of questionable validity."

    Finally, Huffman said it is noteworthy that the "387 men in this study all successfully conceived a child without medical assistance. This appears to be a health study in search of a health problem. Consumers should continue to eat balanced diets in moderation, get plenty of daily exercise consistent with government recommendations and reduce their consumption of news about poorly designed studies and overdone headlines."

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