Health and Medicine

Shanna Swan: ‘Most couples may have to use assisted reproduction by 2045’

By Zoe Corbyn, The Observer

The professor of environmental medicine explains how chemicals in plastics are causing our fertility to decline – and what we can do about it.

Shanna Swan is a professor of environmental medicine and public health at Mount Sinai school of medicine in New York City, studying fertility trends. In 2017 she documented how average sperm counts among western men have more than halved in the past 40 years. Count Down is her new book.

You’ve spent more than 20 years examining the effects of hormone disrupting chemicals on reproductive health. Are you now sounding the alarm?
I am directly speaking to this hidden problem people don’t like to talk about, which is their sub-fertility or reproductive problems, and how that is tied to the environment. People are recognising we have a reproductive health crisis, but they say it’s because of delayed childbearing, choice or lifestyle – it can’t be chemical. I want people to recognise it can. I am not saying other factors aren’t involved. But I am saying chemicals play a major causal role. It is difficult to use that word, “cause”, but it’s a body of evidence. We have mechanisms, animal studies, and multiple human studies.

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