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Keywords:

  • birth cohort effects;
  • Finland;
  • general population;
  • semen quality;
  • sperm;
  • time trends

Summary

Impaired semen quality and testicular cancer may be linked through a testicular dysgenesis syndrome of foetal origin. The incidence of testis cancer has been shown to increase among Finnish men, whereas there is no recent publication describing temporal trends in semen quality. Therefore, we carried out a prospective semen quality study and a registry study of testis cancer incidence among Finnish men to explore recent trends. A total of 858 men were investigated in the semen quality study during 1998–2006. Median sperm concentrations were 67 (95% CI 57–80) million/mL, 60 (51–71) and 48 (39–60) for birth cohorts 1979–81, 1982–83 and 1987; total sperm counts 227 (189–272) million, 202 (170–240) and 165 (132–207); total number of morphologically normal spermatozoa 18 (14–23) million, 15 (12–19) and 11 (8–15). Men aged 10–59 years at the time of diagnosis with testicular cancer during 1954–2008 were included in the registry study, which confirmed the increasing incidence of testicular cancer in recent cohorts. These simultaneous and rapidly occurring adverse trends suggest that the underlying causes are environmental and, as such, preventable. Our findings necessitate not only further surveillance of male reproductive health but also research to detect and remove the underlying factors.