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(Los Angeles Daily News) -- Folic acid, an important nutrient for women who want to conceive children, could also play a role in male fertility, say researchers at University of California, Berkeley.

A new study has linked low levels of a certain type of folic acid to lower sperm counts and sperm density. The research, involving 48 men, was conducted by researchers at Berkeley, the University of Alabama and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

The study is considered preliminary, and its sample size is small. Dr. Paul Turek, a urologist at the University of California, San Francisco, who was not involved in the study, said that sperm count and density are only two of many factors affecting male fertility and that the study is not definitive.

Still, Turek says, the study could prove an important contribution to a small but growing body of research focusing on how men's diet and health affect fertility.

Although researchers have demonstrated that smoking and alcohol use among men can affect their fertility, scientists have far more typically focused on female behavior and its effect on conception and fetal development, says the study's lead author, Berkeley-affiliated nutritionist Lynn Wallock.

Doctors have long advised women to add folic acid, a type of vitamin B found in leafy greens, legumes and fortified breakfast cereals, to their diets to reduce the risk of birth defects such as spina bifida.

FILTER JOE: Levels of the so-called bad cholesterol can be raised by drinking boiled coffee, but sticking a little paper filter in the basket solves the problem, reports a new study.

Analyzing 14 tests of coffee-drinking adults conducted between 1985 and l992, researchers found very little increase in the level of cholesterol in the blood as long as the java lovers filtered out the oils.

However, levels of low-density lipoprotein -- or LDL, the "bad" cholesterol -- did rise if the coffee was boiled, the study says.

(c) 2001 Los Angeles Daily News

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