Diabetes is a chronic medical condition that seriously affects the longevity and the fertility of men. The disease is marked by the inability of the body to process the simple sugar glucose and convert it to useable energy. In July 2008, scientific research published by Dr. Con Mallidis, et al. of Queen’s University in Belfast, Ireland confirmed that the disease compromises the fertility of men by damaging the DNA within sperm cells.
The Connection Between High Blood Sugar and Infertility in Men
Dr. Con Mallidis, et al. presented scientific data that this metabolic disease affects the viability of reproductive cells at the molecular level. As a result of genetic errors altering both the DNA and the RNA, miscarriages, serious childhood conditions in offspring and cancers can occur. People who have sustained high blood sugar levels over a long period of time cannot readily repair DNA damage within the nucleus of their cells. All types of cells within the human body are affected, including the reproductive cells, and once the damaged is done, it cannot be reversed.
So, what is the importance of this research and the impact of DNA? DNA is the molecular instruction for all life on Earth. These instructions are expressed through its transcription into RNA and then its translation into amino acids. Amino acids are then processed and packaged into functional proteins. If an error occurs within the DNA sequence, it is commonly corrected by DNA repair proteins. But if the error fails to be corrected, changes in the amino acids may result in structural and functional alterations in the protein being produced.
The Accumulation of Advanced Glycation End Products (AGEs)
Dr. Con Mallidis has found evidence that high blood sugar levels in men cause damage in the DNA of male reproductive cells through the accumulation of advanced glycation end products (AGEs). AGEs are the result of sugar molecules being added to proteins and fats without being moderated and regulated by enzymes in the reproductive tract. AGEs disrupt metabolic pathways and increase the risk of certain health conditions.
In people who have high glucose levels, an accumulation of AGEs occurs when glucose levels in the blood are excessively high and not controlled. AGEs are also found in those who eat a large amount of animal products high in protein and fat. Cooking meat at high temperatures increases the number of AGEs that already exist in animal products. The cooking process also produces glucosamines, proteins that have sugars attached to them, and molecule 2-propenamide, a known carcinogen. When glucosamines are heated further, they become AGEs.
DNA Damage Caused by AGEs
Nuclear material, such as DNA, codes for the production of proteins like transcription factors and DNA repair proteins that carry out important functions. AGEs can interfere with the normal structure and functioning of a protein. For example, DNA repair proteins damaged by AGEs cannot repair DNA properly, which can lead to infertility issues.
Preventing Diabetes-Related Infertility
Infertility due to diabetes can be minimized by detecting the disease early, monitoring blood glucose levels and keeping glucose levels within safe limits. Glucose levels can be lowered dramatically through a combination of diet, exercise and doctor-prescribed medications. It is important to monitor your blood sugar levels frequently throughout the day and to eat a diet that is in low in fat (especially animal fat) and carbohydrates. Moreover, exercise also helps burn excess sugar by converting it to energy. Awareness of the disease and proper care is key to avoiding medical complications such as infertility.