Background: Smoke-free tobacco via moist oral snuff (snus) is used daily in more than 20% of Swedish men. Negative effects of cigarette smoking on sperm parameters are well documented, unlike for snuff, despite relevance also for other smoke-free nicotine products. Objectives: We wanted to investigate whether reproductive parameters differed between users and non-users of snuff, and whether the amount of snuff and nicotine exposure mattered. Materials and methods: Men (n = 613) from the general population, recruited 2000–2010, were physically examined, answered questions on smoking and snuff use, and delivered urine, blood and semen samples. Sperm concentration, total sperm count, semen volume, percent morphologically normal and progressively motile sperm, and DNA fragmentation index (by the Sperm Chromatin Structure Assay) and reproductive hormones were analysed. Nicotine exposure was measured through urinary levels of cotinine. We used general linear models, with adjustments including cigarette smoking, and for semen parameters also abstinence time. Results: After adjustments, total sperm count was 24% lower (P = 0.03) and testosterone 14% higher (P < 0.001) in 109 users of snuff than in non-users, whereas cotinine was positively associated with testosterone and oestradiol (P < 0.001). Numbers of boxes of snuff used per week were associated with testosterone and FSH (P < 0.001). Discussion: Applied to the general population, the consumption of smoke-free tobacco by the use of snuff was associated with a lower sperm count and a higher testosterone, for which the extent seemed to play a role. Conclusions: Independent of smoking, consumption of snuff was associated with lower total sperm count and different hormone levels. Applying these results to a reported association between sperm count and the chance of pregnancy, men who used snuff would have about a 10% lower chance of fathering a child.
- Miljömedicin och yrkesmedicin