Researchers at the University of Sheffield, UK, are launching a study to investigate a nutrient that could boost male fertility.

Lycopene, a naturally occurring chemical that makes tomatoes red, is believed to boost sperm count by up to 70%, according to a similar study held by Cleveland Clinic’s Center for Reproductive Medicine in US.

The latest 12-week study aims to find out whether increase in blood lycopene levels can help improve sperm quality.

University of Sheffield Andrology Professor Allan Pacey said: "Studies elsewhere in the world have shown that the antioxidant properties of lycopene seem to have a beneficial effect on sperm quality and we want to investigate this further.

"Production of sperm takes three months. This study will tell us if lycopene improves the quality of sperm already in development by reducing DNA damage, and whether it produces an overall increase in the number of mature sperm produced overall."

"The latest 12-week study aims to find out whether increase in blood lycopene levels can help improve sperm quality."

As part of study, researchers will test sperm and blood samples from 60 male volunteers aged between 18 and 30 years to check lycopene levels and to see if some individuals absorb lycopene more readily than others.

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Of all the volunteers, 30 will be given two 7mg capsules of a highly absorbable form of lycopene supplement containing lactolycopene per day while the remainder will take identical dummy capsules.

Researchers have chosen over-the-counter lactolycopene supplement, XY Pro, based on the data from previous scientific papers showing its lycopene formulation is very readily absorbed.

Several other studies have shown the lycopene may also slow the progression of prostate cancer.

Image: Scientists at the University of Sheffield are launching a study to investigate if lycopenecan boost male fertility. Photo: courtesy of The University of Sheffield.