Here’s an oldie but a goodie. In 1990, the Journal In Vitro Cellular & Developmental Biology published a study examining the effects of heavy metals on adrenal and testicular production of hormones in rats. The researchers from the Chinese University of Hong Kong showed that mercury, cadmium, lead and copper had an adverse effect on the production of testosterone, with mercury having the most profound impact. The pathway was determined to be through reduction in luteinizing hormone-stimulated testosterone by the Leydig cells of the testis. Another interesting finding was that adrenal function was also imnpaired by the same metals. As recently as February of 2011, researchers in Tunisia showed that methylmercury could lower plasma testosterone and also seminal fluid testosterone by 55%.
While animal studies are interesting from a research standpoint, studies that demonstrate impact on humans have more clinical relevance. Researchers Wirth and Mijal at Michigan State University in 2010 examined the impact of “the effects of low, environmentally-realistic exposure levels of these metals on male reproductive outcomes” in humans. Looking at several well-designed studies, they determined that even low exposures from cadmium, lead and mercury had an impact on semen quality and reproductive hormone levels in men.
The good news is that we have a built-in method for heavy metal removal known as the metallothionein protein. Metallothionein safely binds with heavy metals and transfers the bound metals to the liver for detoxification and removal. A specific herbal combination with the ingredients andrographis paniculata, zinc citrate, humulus lupulus, and curcuma longa has been shown to both upregulate the metallothionein protein as well as the excretion of the heavy metals cadmium, lead, mercury and others. This combination was able to improve the removal of these metals without negatively affecting health-promoting minerals like magnesium, calcium, zinc etc.
With our exposures to these damaging metals to be at an all-time high, we need to do all we can to increase our natural removal and detoxification processes.
In Vitro Cell Dev Biol. 1990 Jan;26(1):24-8.Toxic effect of heavy metals on cells isolated from the rat adrenal and testis. Ng TB, Liu WK.Department of Biochemistry, Faculty of Medicine, Chinese University of Hong Kong, Shatin
Syst Biol Reprod Med. 2010 Apr;56(2):147-67. Adverse effects of low level heavy metal exposure on male reproductive function. Wirth JJ, Mijal RS.Department of Epidemiology, Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan 48823, USA
Andrologia. 2011 Feb;43(1):23-7. Accumulation of mercury and its effects on testicular functions in rats intoxicated orally by methylmercury. Moussa H, et al. Laboratoire de Physiologie, E.S.S.T.S, Monastir, Tunisia
Andrews GK. Regulation of metallothionein gene expression by oxidative stress and metal ions. Biochem Pharmacol 2000;59(1):95-104.