Eating more fish is linked to increased sex and pregnancy, study finds

Couples who had fish more than 8 times a menstrual cycle had a 47% shorter time getting pregnant than those who didn't, and had 22% more sex than those that didn't.

Eating more fish is linked to increased sex and pregnancy, study finds

Fish. They swim around without emotion and, let's be honest, don't pay taxes. But according to a highly cited study in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, they might be good for something after all: helping us humans procreate. 


I'll give you a second to take that in. 

According to the study, 501 couples were surveyed for from 2005 to 2009 and asked an array of questions about both their contraceptive methods and their fish intake. It doesn't particularly matter what kinds of fish: canned tuna counted, as did shrimp and shellfish. The study started with over 1,000 couples but was apparently whittled down—if you will—by birth control methods. Go ahead and read the full study here for yourself if you'd like. 

But you're probably reading this to find out about the numbers... how much extra copulation will you get by upping your fish consumption? It all boils down to this very exciting paragraph below. Keep in mind that 'cycle' refers to the menstrual cycle, that TTP means 'time to pregnancy', and SIF means 'sexual intercourse frequency': 

Couples with male and female partners who consumed eight or more seafood servings per cycle had 47% (95% CI, 7% to 103%) and 60% (95% CI, 15% to 122%) greater fecundity (shorter TTP) than couples with male and female partners who consumed one or fewer seafood servings per cycle. Couples with both partners consuming eight or more seafood servings per cycle had 61% (95% CI, 17% to 122%) greater fecundity than couples consuming less. Male and female partners with the highest seafood intake (eight or more servings per cycle) also had 22% greater SIF.

Let's break that down: couples who had fish more than 8 times a menstrual cycle (roughly one month) had a 47% shorter time getting pregnant than those who didn't, and those who consumed fish 8 or more times during a cycle had 22% more sex than those that didn't. 

One thing about the study is unclear: why eating fish seems to increase sex (and pregnancy). Perhaps it's because fish is a relatively "clean" protein, i.e. far more lean than beef and a lot less likely to contain man-made contaminates than chicken. Given that 99.5% of chicken available in stores and restaurants is factory farmed, there's a good chance that it's been given antibiotics and whatever else big-league farmers need to make as much money as possible. Touching upon the cleanliness of fish, the study touches upon the fact that fish contain toxins but states that those toxins are in trace amounts unless you consume a lot of fish, therefore the good far outweighs the bad. 

Of course, as any Big Think reader knows, correlation does not equal causation. But the findings from this 4-year study are clear: it's time to start researching your sushi. 

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CRISPR therapy cures first genetic disorder inside the body

It marks a breakthrough in using gene editing to treat diseases.

Credit: National Cancer Institute via Unsplash
Technology & Innovation

This article was originally published by our sister site, Freethink.

For the first time, researchers appear to have effectively treated a genetic disorder by directly injecting a CRISPR therapy into patients' bloodstreams — overcoming one of the biggest hurdles to curing diseases with the gene editing technology.

The therapy appears to be astonishingly effective, editing nearly every cell in the liver to stop a disease-causing mutation.

The challenge: CRISPR gives us the ability to correct genetic mutations, and given that such mutations are responsible for more than 6,000 human diseases, the tech has the potential to dramatically improve human health.

One way to use CRISPR to treat diseases is to remove affected cells from a patient, edit out the mutation in the lab, and place the cells back in the body to replicate — that's how one team functionally cured people with the blood disorder sickle cell anemia, editing and then infusing bone marrow cells.

Bone marrow is a special case, though, and many mutations cause disease in organs that are harder to fix.

Another option is to insert the CRISPR system itself into the body so that it can make edits directly in the affected organs (that's only been attempted once, in an ongoing study in which people had a CRISPR therapy injected into their eyes to treat a rare vision disorder).

Injecting a CRISPR therapy right into the bloodstream has been a problem, though, because the therapy has to find the right cells to edit. An inherited mutation will be in the DNA of every cell of your body, but if it only causes disease in the liver, you don't want your therapy being used up in the pancreas or kidneys.

A new CRISPR therapy: Now, researchers from Intellia Therapeutics and Regeneron Pharmaceuticals have demonstrated for the first time that a CRISPR therapy delivered into the bloodstream can travel to desired tissues to make edits.

We can overcome one of the biggest challenges with applying CRISPR clinically.

—JENNIFER DOUDNA

"This is a major milestone for patients," Jennifer Doudna, co-developer of CRISPR, who wasn't involved in the trial, told NPR.

"While these are early data, they show us that we can overcome one of the biggest challenges with applying CRISPR clinically so far, which is being able to deliver it systemically and get it to the right place," she continued.

What they did: During a phase 1 clinical trial, Intellia researchers injected a CRISPR therapy dubbed NTLA-2001 into the bloodstreams of six people with a rare, potentially fatal genetic disorder called transthyretin amyloidosis.

The livers of people with transthyretin amyloidosis produce a destructive protein, and the CRISPR therapy was designed to target the gene that makes the protein and halt its production. After just one injection of NTLA-2001, the three patients given a higher dose saw their levels of the protein drop by 80% to 96%.

A better option: The CRISPR therapy produced only mild adverse effects and did lower the protein levels, but we don't know yet if the effect will be permanent. It'll also be a few months before we know if the therapy can alleviate the symptoms of transthyretin amyloidosis.

This is a wonderful day for the future of gene-editing as a medicine.

—FYODOR URNOV

If everything goes as hoped, though, NTLA-2001 could one day offer a better treatment option for transthyretin amyloidosis than a currently approved medication, patisiran, which only reduces toxic protein levels by 81% and must be injected regularly.

Looking ahead: Even more exciting than NTLA-2001's potential impact on transthyretin amyloidosis, though, is the knowledge that we may be able to use CRISPR injections to treat other genetic disorders that are difficult to target directly, such as heart or brain diseases.

"This is a wonderful day for the future of gene-editing as a medicine," Fyodor Urnov, a UC Berkeley professor of genetics, who wasn't involved in the trial, told NPR. "We as a species are watching this remarkable new show called: our gene-edited future."

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