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An new analysis of published studies found that air pollution is linked to high blood pressure. Yes, breathing polluted air has health effects (here, here, and here). From Science Daily:

High blood pressure linked to short-, long-term exposure to some air pollutants

Both short- and long-term exposure to some air pollutants commonly associated with coal burning, vehicle exhaust, airborne dust and dirt are associated with the development of high blood pressure, according to new research in the American Heart Association's journal Hypertension. "In our analysis of 17 previously-published studies we discovered a significant risk of developing high blood pressure due to exposure to air pollution," said Tao Liu, Ph.D., lead study author and deputy director and epidemiologist of the environmental health division at Guangdong Provincial Institute of Public Health in China.

Researchers performed a meta-analysis of available published studies in the world assessing the health effects of all air pollution on hypertension risk. Meta-analyses combine results from previous studies to estimate the overall effect of a particular variable on a result.....researchers focused on these air pollutants: sulfur dioxide (SO2), which mainly comes from the burning of fossil fuel; nitrogen oxide (NOx), which comes from fossil fuels burned at power plants and vehicle exhaust; Particulate matter (PM) are particles found in the air, including dust, dirt, smoke and liquid droplets. (PM 2.5 is smaller than a speck of dust, and the most common and hazardous type of air pollution. PM10 includes both PM2.5 and PM2.5-10).

The meta-analysis found high blood pressure was significantly associated with: short-term exposure to sulfur dioxide (SO2), PM2.5 and PM10; and long-term exposure to nitrogen dioxide (NO2), which is produced from combustion, and PM10. For the portion of the study that assessed short-term effects of ozone and carbon monoxide exposure, no significant associations were found. Researchers said ozone and carbon monoxide's links to high blood pressure requires further study.

Of the 5,687 air pollution studies initially identified, 17 were the focus of this -- which involves more than 108,000 hypertension patients and 220,000 non-hypertensive controls. High blood pressure was defined as systolic blood pressure more than 140 mm Hg and/or diastolic blood pressure over 90 mm Hg or by antihypertensive drug use. Air pollution exposure was assessed by averaging data from nearest air pollution monitoring stations, or using complex dispersion models or land use regression models.

High blood pressure is a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease and stroke. Previous studies have indicated that air pollution might be a risk factor for hypertension but the results were controversial, Liu said. The mechanism by which air pollution could contribute to the development of high blood pressure includes inflammation and oxidative stress, which may lead to changes in the arteries.

The researchers go overboard in their claims of what this study shows (after all, only 15 men were in the study, their blood pressure was only slightly elevated, and they were studied only for a short time). But.....what this study does show is that tart cherry juice seems to have some health benefits, such as lowering blood pressure for a while. Even though the researchers received funding from the Cherry Marketing Institute, it doesn't change the fact that cherries are considered healthy foods to eat. Montmorency tart cherries (MCs) are high in numerous phytochemicals (which have health benefits), including flavonoids (isorhamnetin, kaempferol, quercetin, catechin, epicatechin, procyanidins, and anthocyanins).

So check the ingredient list before you buy the tart cherry juice to make sure it is pure juice, and then enjoy a glass knowing that'll it'll benefit (if only temporarily) your blood pressure. From Medical Xpress:

High blood pressure lowers significantly after drinking tart Montmorency cherry juice

Drinking tart Montmorency cherry juice significantly reduces high blood pressure at a level comparable to that achieved by medication, according to new research from Northumbria University, Newcastle.The findings ....found that men with early signs of hypertension - more commonly known as high blood pressure - saw a 7% reduction in blood pressure after drinking Montmorency cherry concentrate when compared to drinking a fruit-flavoured cordial

This reduction is comparable to the level achieved by anti-hypertensive medication. High blood pressure affects over five million people in England and, if left untreated, increases risk of heart attack, heart failure, kidney disease, stroke or dementia. Normal blood pressure is around 120/80 mmHg.

Researchers from Northumbria University's Department of Sport, Exercise and Rehabilitation worked with fifteen participants who were displaying early hypertension with blood pressure readings of at least 130/90 mmHg....were given either 60ml of a Montmorency cherry concentrate or the same amount of a commercially available fruit-flavoured cordial. Blood pressure and blood samples were taken before the cherry concentrate was consumed and blood pressure was measured on an hourly basis thereafter. Blood samples and a series of other cardiovascular screening tests were taken again on a regular basis over the following eight hours.

The researchers found that the participants who were given the cherry concentrate saw a peak reduction in their blood pressure of 7 mmHg in the three hours after consuming the drink. 

Past studies have shown that a reduction of between 5-6 mmHg over a sustained period has been associated with a 38% reduced risk of stroke and 23% reduced risk of coronary heart disease. Interestingly, those participants with blood pressure levels at the higher end of the scale saw the most benefit. The greatest improvement in systolic blood pressure occurred when the phenolic acids, protocatechuic and vanillic, within the cherry concentrate reached their peak levels in the plasma. The researchers believe that these particular compounds are, at least in part, responsible for the reduction.  (Original study)

This study showed that children reducing sugar consumption (but not fruits), and without reducing calories, after 10 days improved all sorts of metabolic health markers: blood pressure, LDL cholesterol, triglycerides, liver function, fasting blood glucose, and insulin levels. As one of the researchers said: "I have never seen results as striking or significant in our human studies; after only nine days of fructose (sugar) restriction, the results are dramatic and consistent from subject to subject." Once again, not all calories are the same.

On average, the obese children in this study had been getting about 27 percent of their daily calories from sugar, and during the study period it was lowered to about 10 percent of daily calories. By comparison, the average American takes in about 15 percent, though children typically consume much more than this in part because they have the highest intake of sugar-sweetened beverages. In February of this year, the federal government’s Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee recommended that Americans limit their intake of added sugars to no more than 10 percent of daily calories. From Medical Xpress:

Obese children's health rapidly improves with sugar reduction unrelated to calories

Reducing consumption of added sugar, even without reducing calories or losing weight, has the power to reverse a cluster of chronic metabolic diseases, including high cholesterol and blood pressure, in children in as little as 10 days, according to a study by researchers at UC San Francisco and Touro University California.

"This study definitively shows that sugar is metabolically harmful not because of its calories or its effects on weight; rather sugar is metabolically harmful because it's sugar," said lead author Robert Lustig, MD, MSL, pediatric endocrinologist at UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital San Francisco. "This internally controlled intervention study is a solid indication that sugar contributes to metabolic syndrome, and is the strongest evidence to date that the negative effects of sugar are not because of calories or obesity."

Metabolic syndrome is a cluster of conditions—increased blood pressure, high blood glucose level, excess body fat around the waist, and abnormal cholesterol levels—that occur together and increase risk of heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. Other diseases associated with metabolic syndrome, such as non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and type 2 diabetes, now occur in children—disorders previously unknown in the pediatric population.

In the study, 43 children between the ages of 9 and 18 who were obese and had at least one other chronic metabolic disorder, such as hypertension, high triglyceride levels or a marker of fatty liver, were given nine days of food, including all snacks and beverages, that restricted sugar but substituted starch to maintain the same fat, protein, carbohydrate, and calorie levels as their previously reported home diets.....The study menu restricted added sugar (while allowing fruit), but substituted it by adding other carbohydrates such as bagels, cereal and pasta so that the children still consumed the same number of calories from carbohydrate as before, but total dietary sugar was reduced from 28 to 10 percent, and fructose from 12 to 4 percent of total calories, respectively. The food choices were designed to be "kid food" - turkey hot dogs, potato chips, and pizza all purchased at local supermarkets, instead of high sugar cereals, pastries, and sweetened yogurt.

Children were given a scale and told to weigh themselves everyday, with the goal of weight stability, not weight loss. When weight loss did occur (a decrease of an average of 1 percent over the 10-day period but without change in body fat), they were given more of the low-sugar foods."When we took the sugar out, the kids started responding to their satiety cues," said Schwarz. "They told us it felt like so much more food, even though they were consuming the same number of calories as before, just with significantly less sugar. Some said we were overwhelming them with food."

After just 9 days on the sugar-restricted diet, virtually every aspect of the participants' metabolic health improved, without change in weight. Diastolic blood pressure decreased by 5mm, triglycerides by 33 points, LDL-cholesterol (known as the "bad" cholesterol) by 10 points, and liver function tests improved. Fasting blood glucose went down by 5 points, and insulin levels were cut by one-third. "All of the surrogate measures of metabolic health got better, just by substituting starch for sugar in their processed food—all without changing calories or weight or exercise," said Lustig. "This study demonstrates that 'a calorie is not a calorie.' Where those calories come from determines where in the body they go. Sugar calories are the worst, because they turn to fat in the liver, driving insulin resistance, and driving risk for diabetes, heart, and liver disease."

Years ago people with asthma were told to limit their exercise, for fear it would set off an asthma attack. Now research suggests that the best thing you can do for asthma (to control symptoms) is to get regular exercise year round - here 30 minutes per day, whether walking, biking, or other moderate activities. From Science Daily:

Just 30 minutes a day: Regular exercise relieves asthma symptoms

Millions of people suffer from asthma. Many report having poor control of their symptoms. Fortunately, new research shows there is a simple antidote: 30 minutes of exercise a day, year-round.

In a study recently published in BMJ Open Respiratory Research, experts from Concordia University, the Hôpital du Sacré-Coeur de Montréal and several other institutions analyzed the exercise habits of 643 participants who had been diagnosed with asthma. Results were overwhelmingly clear: those who engaged in optimal levels of physical activity on a regular basis were nearly two-and-a-half times more likely to have good control of their symptoms, compared with those who did no exercise. The workout doesn't have to be strenuous...."Just 30 minutes a day of walking, riding a bike, doing yoga -- anything active, really -- can result in significant reduction of asthma symptoms."

Traditionally, people with the condition have been discouraged from exercising because of a belief that it triggers shortness of breath and attacks. Bacon explains that simple precautionary measures can be taken to avoid the discomforts that can be caused by physical activity. "The issue of exercise-induced bronchospasm is real -- but if you use your releaver medication, blue puffer, before you exercise, and then take the time to cool down afterwards, you should be okay," he says. "Even if you have asthma, there's no good reason not to get out there and exercise."

That's a message Bacon hopes resonates. Within his sample group of 643 individuals, a whopping 245 reported doing no physical activity. Only 100 said they engaged in the optimal 30 minutes a day...."We need to keep in mind that doing something is better than nothing, and doing more is better than less. Even the smallest amount of activity is beneficial."...."Our study shows that those who were able to engage in physical activity on a regular basis year-round benefit most," says Bacon. If necessary, he suggests finding an indoor place to move, whether it's the gym, a staircase or a shopping mall.

A nice summary article about the benefits and risks of coffee consumption. Summary of effects of drinking coffee1) May potentially increase blood pressure, but also may lower the risk for coronary disease, and protect against heart disease. 2) May cut stroke risk by as much as 25%, 3) Linked to  improved glucose metabolism, reduced risk for type 2 diabetes, and promotion of weight loss in overweight patients. 4) May reduce the risk for several cancers. 5) Appears to slow the progression of dementia and Parkinson's disease. 6) A significantly decreased risk of developing depression. 7) Slows progression in alcoholic cirrhosis, hepatitis C, and NAFLD (non-alcoholic fatty liver disease). 8) May be beneficial in dry-eye syndrome, gout, and in preventing MRSA infection. 9) May increase blood pressure, anxiety, insomnia, tremor, withdrawal symptoms, and potential increased risk of glaucoma. From Medscape:

How Healthy Is Coffee? The Latest Evidence

Earlier this year, the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (DGAC) released a report[1] stating that up to five cups of coffee per day, or up to 400 mg of caffeine, is not associated with long-term health risks. Not only that, they highlighted observational evidence that coffee consumption is associated with reduced risk for several diseases, including type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease (CVD), and neurodegenerative disorders. The body of data suggesting that moderate coffee—and, in all likelihood, tea—consumption is not only safe but beneficial in a variety of mental and medical conditions is growing fast.

A 2012 study of over 400,000 people, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, reported that coffee consumption is associated with a 10% reduction in all-cause mortality at 13-year follow-up.... It's important to note that much of the evidence on the potential health effects of coffee, caffeine, and other foods and nutrients is associational and doesn't prove causality—observational investigations come with limitations and often rely on error-prone methods such as patient questionnaires. However, the sheer volume of existing observational data linking coffee and/or caffeine with various health benefits—as well as, in many cases, evidence of a dose response—suggests that the most widely consumed stimulant in the world has positive influences on our health. 

Cardiovascular Disease:...However, when caffeine is ingested via coffee, enduring blood pressure elevations are small and cardiovascular risks may be balanced by protective properties. Coffee beans contain antioxidant compounds that reduce oxidation of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, and coffee consumption has been associated with reduced concentrations of inflammatory markers. Moderate coffee intake is associated with a lower risk for coronary heart disease as far out as 10 years, and data suggest that an average of two cups per day protects against heart failure.

Cerebrovascular Disease and Stroke: The vascular benefits of coffee are not lost on the brain. According to a 2011 meta-analysis, consuming between one and six cups per day reportedly cut stroke risk by 17%. A 22%-25% risk reduction was seen in a large sample of Swedish women followed for an average of 10 years.

Diabetes:...Numerous studies have linked regular coffee drinking with improved glucose metabolism, insulin secretion, and a significantly reduced risk for diabetes. Most recently, findings from a long-term study published this year suggest that coffee drinkers are roughly half as likely to develop type 2 diabetes as are nonconsumers, even after accounting for smoking, high blood pressure, and family history of diabetes.

Cancer: ...Evidence suggests that moderate to heavy coffee consumption can reduce the risk for numerous cancers, including endometrial (> 4 cups/day), prostate (6 cups/day), head and neck (4 cups/day), basal cell carcinoma (> 3 cups/day), melanoma,and breast cancer (> 5 cups/day). The benefits are thought to be at least partially due to coffee's antioxidant and antimutagenic properties.

Neurodegeneration: Beyond the short-term mental boost it provides, coffee also appears to benefit longer-term cognitive well-being. A 2012 study reported that patients with mild cognitive impairment and plasma caffeine levels of > 1200 ng/mL—courtesy of approximately three to five cups of coffee per day—avoided progression to dementia over the following 2-4 years. On a related note, a study from last year reported that caffeine consumption appears to enhance memory consolidation....Caffeinated coffee has long been thought to be neuroprotective in Parkinson disease (PD)....—as well as in multiple sclerosis

Depression: A 2011 study suggests that a boost in coffee consumption might also benefit our mental health: Women who drank two to three cups of coffee per day had a 15% decreased risk for depression compared with those who drank less than one cup per week. A 20% decreased risk was seen in those who drank four cups or more per day. Newer work also suggests that regular coffee drinking may be protective against depression.

Liver Disease: The liver might help break down coffee, but coffee might protect the liver (in some cases). Evidence suggests that coffee consumption slows disease progression in patients with alcoholic cirrhosis and hepatitis C, and reduces the risk of developing hepatocellular carcinoma. A 2012 study reported that coffee intake is associated with a lower risk for nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), while work published in 2014 found that coffee protects against liver fibrosis in those with already established NAFLD.

And That's Not All…: An assortment of other research suggests that coffee intake might also relieve dry-eye syndrome by increasing tear production, reduce the risk for gout, and potentially fight infection. Coffee and hot tea consumption were found to be protective against one of the medical community's most concerning bugs, methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). While it remains unclear whether the beverages have systemic antimicrobial activity, study participants who reported any consumption of either were approximately half as likely to have MRSA in their nasal passages.

And Finally, the Risks: As is often the case, with benefits come risks, and coffee consumption certainly has negative medical and psychiatric effects to consider. Besides the aforementioned potential increase in blood pressure, coffee can incite or worsen anxiety, insomnia, and tremor and potentially elevate glaucoma risk. Also, given the potential severity of symptoms, caffeine withdrawal syndrome is included as a diagnosis in the DSM-5.

Image result for dark chocolateGreat results (dark chocolate improves attention and lowers blood pressure), but keep in mind that the research was sponsored by the Hershey company. But not to worry, it basically found what other studies have found - that chocolate is a stimulant that activates the brain. From Science Daily:

Eat dark chocolate to beat the midday slump?

Larry Stevens eats a piece of high-cacao content chocolate every afternoon, which is in part because he has developed a taste for the unsweetened dark chocolate. It's also because research shows that it lowers blood pressure and his new study reveals that it improves attention, which is especially important when hitting that midday slump.

"Chocolate is indeed a stimulant and it activates the brain in a really special way," said Stevens, a professor of psychological sciences at NAU. "It can increase brain characteristics of attention, and it also significantly affects blood pressure levels."

Historically, chocolate has been recognized as a vasodilator, meaning that it widens blood vessels and lowers blood pressure in the long run, but chocolate also contains some powerful stimulants. Stevens said his team wanted to investigate if people who consume chocolate would see an immediate stimulant effect.

Stevens and his colleagues in the Department of Psychological Sciences performed the EEG study with 122 participants between the ages of 18 and 25 years old. The researchers examined the EEG levels and blood pressure effects of consuming a 60 percent cacao confection compared with five control conditions...The results for the participants who consumed the 60 percent cacao chocolate showed that the brain was more alert and attentive after consumption. Their blood pressure also increased for a short time.

The most interesting results came from one of the control conditions, a 60 percent cacao chocolate which included L-theanine, an amino acid found in green tea that acts as a relaxant. This combination hasn't been introduced to the market yet, so you won't find it on the candy aisle...."L-theanine is a really fascinating product that lowers blood pressure and produces what we call alpha waves in the brain that are very calm and peaceful," Stevens said. For participants who consumed the high-cacao content chocolate with L-theanine, researchers recorded an immediate drop in blood pressure. 

The statements in this editorial may be obvious to many, but it is nicely written and needs to be said. Basically it says that exercise will not help you overcome the ill effects of a poor diet. I agree with what was said, but felt that what was missing was mention that a poor diet also has negative effects on the microbiome (the community of microbes living within the person) - which we know is linked to health problems. From Medscape:

Workouts Do Not Work Off Ill Effects of Poor Die

Exercise enthusiasts cannot work off the ill effects of an unhealthy diet, say the authors of an editorial published online April 22 in the British Journal of Sports Medicine. "Let us bust the myth of physical inactivity and obesity," the authors write. "You cannot outrun a bad diet."

Physical activity levels in Western nations have remained flat during the past 3 decades, even as obesity rates have exploded. That observation is just one sign that calories, not lack of exercise, are driving the obesity crisis, argue Aseem Malhotra, MD, honorary consultant cardiologist at Frimley Park Hospital, United Kingdom, and science director for Action on Sugar, United Kingdom, and colleagues.

"However, the obesity epidemic represents only the tip of a much larger iceberg of the adverse health consequences of poor diet," the authors write. They say that the Lancet global burden of disease reports concluded that poor diet contributes to more disease than a combination of inadequate physical activity, alcohol, and smoking. As many as 40% of people with normal body weight will suffer from metabolic abnormalities typically associated with obesity, the authors write, including hypertension, dyslipidemia, nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, and cardiovascular disease.

Dr Malhotra and colleagues blame food industry marketing for promoting exercise over diet, comparing food industry public relations with discredited tactics used by the tobacco industry in the past. They say Coca Cola "pushes the message that 'all calories count'; they associate their products with sport, suggesting it is ok to consume their drinks as long as you exercise. However science tells us this is misleading and wrong."

The kind of calorie matters too, they emphasize. Calories from sugar promote fat storage and hunger; fat calories induce satiety. For every 150 calories consumed from sugar, there is an 11-fold increase in the prevalence of type 2 diabetes independent of weight or physical activity levels compared with consumption of 150 calories of fat or protein.

This is the latest study raising health concerns about energy drinks, which include popular brands Red Bull and Monster. (See review article Energy Beverages: Content and Safety and from Time What’s In Your Energy Drink? ). And remember, they are not a "real food" when you look at the ingredients (e.g., caffeine, taurine and glucuronolactone, artificial flavors, artificial sweeteners, colors). From Live Science:

Energy Drinks Raise Blood Pressure, Study Finds

Energy drinks might give you some pep — but they might also be priming you for heart problems, a new study finds. Researchers found that energy drinks can raise blood pressure to potentially unhealthy levels. The effect was far more prominent in young adults who did not consume caffeine regularly, according to the study, presented March 14 at an American College of Cardiology meeting in San Diego.

In this study, the research team — led by Dr. Anna Svatikova, a cardiovascular-diseases fellow at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota — gave a can of a commercially available energy drink to 25 healthy volunteers, whose ages ranged from 19 to 40. On a different day, the participants drank the same amount of a placebo drink. The researchers measured the participants' heart rate and blood pressure before and after the drinks.

The participants experienced a more marked rise in blood pressure after consuming the energy drink than after drinking the placebo, according to the findings. The participants' average systolic blood pressure (the top number in a blood pressure reading) increased by 3 percent more after they drank an energy drink, compared with after they drank the placebo drink. [5 Health Problems Linked to Energy Drinks]

The effect was most dramatic in people who did not typically consume more than a small cup of coffee or other caffeinated drink daily. In this so-called "caffeine-naive" group, the blood pressure increase was twice as high as the increase seen in the people who drank at least the equivalent of a cup of coffee on a daily basis, the researchers said in a statement...Scientists do not know whether it is the caffeine, taurine or other ingredients found in energy drinks — or a combination of ingredients — that can adversely affect the heart.

In a separate study, presented last year at an American Heart Association meeting by Maj. Emily Fletcher of the David Grant Air Force Medical Center, healthy volunteers experienced a greater increase in blood pressure after they consumed an energy drink compared to after they drank a coffee drink that had an equal amount of caffeine. This result, Fletcher said, suggests that ingredients in the energy drink other than caffeine were conspiring to raise blood pressure.

Excellent for those who want to exercise more, but don't want something complex. This is so simple that there is NO excuse for not doing this: walk fast for 3 minutes, then 3 minutes of strolling, and repeat 5 times (total=30 minutes). From NY Times:

Walk Hard. Walk Easy. Repeat.

Intense, interval-style workouts — brief bouts of very hard exercise broken up by periods of recovery — have been shown to improve the health and fitness of people who exert themselves for only a few minutes a week. Such efficiency is alluring, and has helped this kind of conditioning attract widespread media attention in recent years (including in this column). But high-intensity interval training programs aren’t for everyone....That doubt is what makes some news out of Japan about a much-less-punishing form of interval training so welcome.

A decade ago, scientists led by Dr. Hiroshi Nose at the Shinshu University Graduate School of Medicine in Matsumoto, Japan, started developing walking programs. They knew that walking was physically the easiest (and also the most practical) exercise for those in middle age and older, but the researchers suspected that people might need to push themselves to achieve the greatest health benefits. So they created a regimen consisting of three minutes of fast walking at a pace that Nose says approximates a 6 or 7 on a scale of exertion from 1 to 10. Each “somewhat-hard” three-minute spell was followed by three minutes of gentle strolling.

In their original experiment, the results of which were published in 2007, walkers between the ages of 44 and 78 completed five sets of intervals, for a total of 30 minutes of walking at least three times a week. A separate group of older volunteers walked at a continuous, moderate pace, equivalent to about a 4 on the same exertion scale. After five months, the fitness and health of the older, moderate group had barely improved. The interval walkers, however, significantly improved aerobic fitness, leg strength and blood-pressure readings.

In their latest study, which came out in December in the Journal of Applied Physiology, Nose and his colleagues report that most of the participants stayed with the walking program long after their original five-month commitment ended. Two years later, almost 70 percent of the walkers with whom the researchers remained in contact were still following their regimen at least three times a week and had retained or improved their health gains. Those who quit often cited “family, health and job issues,” says Dr. Shizue Masuki, the new study’s lead author, but they rarely complained about the complexity or difficulty of the training.

So those who have considered high-intensity interval training but have been apprehensive about its demands should go for a walk. “Perform the training for 10 minutes in the morning, 10 minutes in the afternoon and 10 minutes in the evening,” Masuki suggests. Three days of exercise per week is best, but if that’s too challenging, she says, “do it on the weekend” and cram the workouts into two days. Doing so, Masuki adds, “can have a profound effect on physiological regulation.”

Yes, this finding is important , but what should be also noted is this sentence in the article: "He also noted that it may not be a disease itself, but the treatment for the disease, that's actually responsible for reproductive malfunction." It has been known for decades that men's sperm is affected by environmental chemicals (such as pesticides), alcohol, smoking, and medications. So it's important to figure out if it's the medicine or the health condition that's causing the problem - or perhaps it's both. From Science Daily:

Infertility is a warning: Poor semen quality linked to hypertension, other health problems

A study of men who were evaluated for the cause of their infertility finds previously unknown relationships between deficiencies in their semen and other, seemingly unrelated health problems. A study of more than 9,000 men with fertility problems has revealed a correlation between the number of different defects in a man's semen and the likelihood that the man has other health problems.

The study, conducted by investigators at the Stanford University School of Medicine, also links poor semen quality to a higher chance of having various specific health conditions, such as hypertension, and more generally to skin and endocrine disorders....A study Eisenberg co-authored a few years ago showed that infertile men had higher rates of overall mortality, as well as mortality linked to heart problems, in the years following an infertility evaluation. 

In the new study, Eisenberg and his colleagues analyzed the medical records of 9,387 men, mostly between 30 and 50 years old, who had been evaluated at Stanford Hospital & Clinics (now Stanford Health Care) between 1994 and 2011 to determine the cause of their infertility. ...So, using the database, the investigators were able to compare the overall health status of men who had semen defects to that of the men who didn't.

With a median age of 38, this was a fairly young group of men. However, 44 percent of all the men had some additional health problem besides the fertility problem that brought them to the clinic. In particular, the investigators found a substantial link between poor semen quality and specific diseases of the circulatory system, notably hypertension, vascular disease and heart disease. 

In addition, as the number of different kinds of defects in a man's semen rose, so did his likelihood of having a skin disease or endocrine disorder. When looking at the severity of all health problems, the scientists observed a statistically significant connection between the number of different ways in which a man's semen was deficient and the likelihood of his having a substantial health problem.... He also noted that it may not be a disease itself, but the treatment for the disease, that's actually responsible for reproductive malfunction. He said he is exploring this possibility now.

This article mentions a few of the other issues that are linked with male infertility.While incomplete, at least it mentions smoking, BPA exposure, binge drinking, obesity, and lack of sleep.From Medical Daily:

Your Sperm And Your Health: What Your Semen Can Tell You About Your Health

The following article focused on other links to male infertility. It also discussed an interesting 2012 study that looked at the effects of wearing tight briefs (which heats the genitals) versus boxers on sperm production (hint: briefs had very negative effect). From Five Thirty Eight Science:

Men, Those Tightie Whities Really Are Killing Your Sperm Count