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Sorry, gents. New research shows that eating bacon on a regular basis can reduce your fertility. It's a good thing Homer Simpson already has three kids.

As reported by The Daily Mail, the recent study by Harvard University researchers in Massachusetts indicated that men who consume a regular-sized serving of bacon or a small sausage on a daily basis are at risk of significantly harming their sperm quality.

At the same time, scientists claim that if you really want strong swimmers, you should be eating fish instead, and cod and halibut in particular.

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The bad news for bacon-lovers is part of a Harvard study to be presented later this week at the American Society of Reproductive Medicine in Boston.

The research team closely studied the eating habits of 156 men who were undergoing in-vitro fertilization treatment with their partners.

More specifically, the men were queried about how often they ate certain foods, including processed meat, white meat, red meat, white fish and tuna or salmon.

What did they learn? The men who ate a half-portion of processed meat every day had just 5.5-per-cent "normal" shaped sperm cells, compared to 7.2 per cent in those who ate less.

And the men who ate dishes containing white fish every other day, or a half-portion daily, had much better sperm quality than those who consumed fish less frequently.

"We found the effect of processed meat intake lowered quality and fish raised quality," said lead researcher Dr. Myriam Afeiche.

But before you throw out all that bacon, consider that Dr. Allan Pacey, chairman of the British Fertility Society, is slightly cautious about the findings.

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"In this instance, the authors link men's intake of processed meat with the size and shape of their sperm," Pacey said. "This may be a real effect, but the study is small and we know that accurately measuring sperm size and shape in the laboratory is fraught with error."

In any case, the Harvard study does lean toward the growing evidence that a couple's chances of having kids is largely determined by their lifestyle, with alcohol, smoking and stress having a negative effect, and exercise and healthy eating enhancing it.

While the science community still can't explain why certain foods can impact fertility, it is believed that red meat is thought to contain high levels of pesticides and other substances that can create havoc with hormones. White fish, meanwhile, is known to be rich in zinc, which is believed to kickstart fertility.

Last year, Cambridge University in Britain concluded that the number of cases of bowel cancer, heart disease and diabetes would drop by 10 per cent if men cut their intake of processed meat in half.

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