A PILL containing a pigment that makes tomatoes red could offer new hope to couples struggling for a baby, say experts.
Supplement LactoLycopene can double healthy sperm count and improve its size and shape, tests show.
A new pill containing a pigment that makes tomatoes red could offer new hope to couples struggling for a baby[/caption]
Experts have hailed the “surprise” results, which follow a steady fall in men’s sperm count linked to factors such as poor diet and a lack of exercise.
In a 12-week trial on 60 men aged 19 to 30, half took LactoLycopene, with its lycopene pigment, and half a dummy.
Their sperm and blood was analysed at the start and finish.
Study leader, Prof Allan Pacey, of Sheffield University, said he “nearly fell off my chair” when he analysed the results of those who took the genuine pill.
“We used a computer system to make these measurements, which takes a lot of the human error out of the results. Also, the person using the computer didn’t know who had taken lactolycopene and who had taken the dummy pills either.
“This was the first properly designed and controlled study of the effect of Lactolycopene on semen quality, and it has spurred us to want to do more work with this molecule.”
He said there was a dramatic improvement in the size and shape of their sperm.
Lycopene is a pigment that gives tomatoes their red colour, but it is poorly absorbed by the human body when eaten.
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Dr Liz Williams, who devised the trial, said it would be a major step to helping couples conceive naturally if the results were mirrored in tests on men with fertility problems.
It could also help them avoid invasive and expensive fertility treatment, she said.
Previous studies have shown lycopene helps the prostate — which makes sperm — function better.
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