Source: The Mercury, 30 October, 1998, p.13
By EVE LAMB A NEW report shows smoking can double the rate of sperm chromosome abnor- malities, potentially causing birth de- fects. In Hobart for the Fer- tility Society of Aust- ralia's annual confer- ence, US biochemist Donald Evenson said the report suggests heavy smoking could cause serious sperm abnor- malities. The report, to be re- leased this month, de- tails European findings that show heavy smok- ers have twice the inci- dence of a sperm chromo- somal abnormality, which could lead to infer- tility and birth defects, Professor Evenson said. "There are something like 24 identified muta- gens in tobacco smoke, so by definition there is no doubt that cigarette smoking is very harmful for you," he said. "The report shows there is a doubling of the incidence of the Y chro- mosome in sperm. "There is another study done by the Uni- versity of California that showed the make-up of sperm was altered in those who smoked more than two packets a day. "But in the future when we have much more sensitive instru- mentation we may find alterations [to sperm chromosomes] with a pack a day." Professor Evenson, of the South Dakota State University, said Danish studies suggested the average sperm count had been declining over the past 50 years. He said this decline was believed to be linked to exposure to environ- mental toxins, including tobacco smoke. "We know from stud- ies done a number of years ago that environ- mental and workplace exposure to toxicants have caused some seri- ous problems in sperm production and quality of sperm," Professor Evenson said. "And, more seriously, exposure to some sorts of compounds may result in spontaneous abortions and birth defects. "Petroleum solvents, like degreasers, are among the worse. "Mechanics, for exam- ple, will use these sol- vents to remove grease from their hands and these types of solvents are known to be poten- tially hazardous for dividing cells." Professor Evenson is one of the keynote speak- ers at the conference, where his talk today will centre on environmental toxins. More than 350 del- egates from around Aust- ralia and overseas are attending the conference, which continues at Wrest Point until tomorrow.
THE Federal Govern- ment should force to- bacco companies to cut nicotine in ciga- rettes to non-addictive levels, anti-smoking groups said yesterday. NSW Cancer Coun- cil chief executive An- drew Penman said falling smoker num- bers in Australia had stalled as mid-teen smokers increased. "We need to move forward with a new commitment and a new approach to achieving smoking control," he said. The call came after the launch of a report by the US and British medical associations calling on govern- ments to regulate nic- otine and related sub- stances in cigarettes.
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