Introduction

Oxidative stress is caused by an imbalance between the production of reactive oxygen species (ROS) and antioxidant capacity of the cell [1]. Oxidative stress appears to be the major cause of DNA damage in the male germ line [2-5]. Furthermore,

Department of Urology, University of Caxias do Sul,

Pinheiro Machado 2569, sl 23/24, Caxias do Sul, RS 95020172, Brazil e-mail: Fabio @ conception-rs.com.br

E.B. Pasqualotto, MD, PhD

Department of Gynecology, University of Caxias do Sul, Caxias do Sul, RS, Brazil

A. Agarwal et al. (eds.), Studies on Men's Health and Fertility, Oxidative Stress 417

in Applied Basic Research and Clinical Practice, DOI 10.1007/978-1-61779-776-7_19, © Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2012

many studies have indicated a significant correlation between DNA damage and high levels of ROS in infertile patients [6-10]. DNA damage in the male germ line has been associated with poor sperm quality, low fertilization rates, impaired preim-plantation development, increased abortion rates, and an elevated incidence of disease in the offspring, including childhood cancer. The exact causes of this DNA damage are still unclear, but the major candidates are oxidative stress and aberrant apoptosis [10]. Several investigators have now found a link between oxidative stress and sperm DNA damage [11].

At least 14% of the reproductive population worldwide is affected by infertility [12]. Male reproductive health is already under threat from a range of environmental factors including endocrine disruptors, toxic pollutants, ionizing and lifestyle factors such as sexually transmitted infections, alcoholism, smoking, and anabolic steroid use. Further hazards such as fast food, recreational drugs, and stress levels may also impair male fertility.

Recreational drug may be defined as any substance with pharmacologic effects that is taken voluntarily for personal pleasure or satisfaction rather than for medicinal purposes. The term is generally applied to alcohol, barbiturates, amphetamines, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), PCP, cocaine, and heroin, but also includes caffeine in coffee and cola beverages.

The drugs most popular for recreational use worldwide are the following:

• Caffeine (from coffee, tea, and other plant sources)—Legal in all parts of the world, but not consumed by members of some religions.

• Cannabis (commonly known as marijuana (MJ); contains cannabinoids, primarily THC)—Illegal in most parts of the world.

• Ethanol (commonly referred to as (ethyl) alcohol, produced through fermentation by yeast in alcoholic beverages such as wine and beer)—Legal but regulated in most parts of the world, and illegal in several Muslim countries such as Libya, Sudan, and Saudi Arabia; not consumed by members of some religions. In chemistry alcohol can refer to substances other than ethyl alcohol. Methyl (wood) alcohol is poisonous.

• Tobacco (contains nicotine and b-carboline alkaloids)—Legal but regulated in most parts of the world and not consumed by members of some religions.

• Opiates and opioids—Generally legal by prescription only, for relief of pain. These drugs include hydrocodone, oxycodone, morphine, and others; some opiates are illegal in some countries but used for medical purposes in others, such as diacetylmorphine (heroin).

• Cocaine—A stimulant derived from the coca plant in South America. Use of the stimulating coca leaf, but not cocaine, is legal in Peru and Bolivia. Cocaine is illegal in most parts of the world, but its derivatives such as lidocaine and novo-caine are used in medicine and dentistry for local anesthesia.

• Psychotropic drugs.

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