[ RadSafe ] Men hooked on mobile phones may suffer a 40 per cent drop in fertility
Dawson, Fred Mr
Fred.Dawson199 at mod.uk
Tue Oct 24 01:21:05 CDT 2006
Times reports - Men hooked on mobile phones may suffer a 40 per cent
drop in fertility
Radiation is the likely cause, reports our correspondent from the
American Society for Reproductive Medicine
MEN who are heavy users of mobile phones have significantly lower sperm
counts than those who are not, according to research that suggests
radiation from handsets could be damaging male fertility.
Both the quantity and quality of a man's sperm decline as his daily
mobile phone use increases, a study of 361 infertility patients in the
United States indicates.
The greatest effects were seen among very heavy users who talked on a
mobile phone for more than four hours a day. They produced about 40 per
cent less sperm than men who never used a mobile phone at all. Smaller
falls in sperm count were also found among those who used the phones
The findings, from a team led by Ashok Agarwal, of the Cleveland Clinic
in Ohio, could indicate that the electromagnetic fields generated by
mobile phone handsets are interfering with sperm production.
Previous studies have shown that close and heavy exposure to this form
of radiation damages sperm in the laboratory, though an effect has never
been demonstrated convincingly outside this environment.
Other researchers, however, cautioned that the study showed only an
association between mobile phone use and sperm counts, but established
no causal link. It was more likely that heavy phone use was linked to
another factor, such as stress or obesity, which was responsible for the
effect, they said.
"The findings seem pretty robust, but I can only assume that mobile
phone use is a surrogate for something else," said Allan Pacey, senior
lecturer in andrology at the University of Sheffield. "If you are
holding it up to your head to speak a lot, it makes no sense it is
having a direct effect on your testes.
"Maybe people who use a phone for four hours a day spend more time
sitting in cars, which could mean there's a heat issue. It could be they
are more stressed, or more sedentary and sit about eating junk food
getting fat. Those seem to be better explanations than a phone causing
the damage at such a great distance."
Dr Agarwal, who presented the results yesterday at the American Society
for Reproductive Medicine conference in New Orleans, said that they were
worrying because of the wide extent of mobile phone use. "Almost a
billion people are using cell phones and the number is growing in many
countries at 20 to 30 per cent a year," Dr Agarwal said.
"People use mobile phones without thinking twice what the consequences
may be. It is just like using a toothbrush but mobiles could be having a
devastating effect on fertility. It still has to be proved, but it could
have a huge impact because mobiles are so much part of our lives."
In the study, 361 men whose sperm was being analysed before fertility
treatment were asked about their mobile phone use, and split into four
groups: those who never used a phone, those who used a phone for less
than two hours, two to four hours, and more than four hours a day.
Median sperm counts were measured at 85.89 million per millilitre for
non-users, 69.03 million for the second group, 58.87 million for the
third and 50.30 million for the fourth. Sperm motility, or swimming
ability, also fell as phone use increased, as did other measures of
"The main finding was that on all four parameters - sperm count,
motility, viability and morphology - there were significant differences
between the groups," Dr Agarwal said. "The greater the use of cell
phones, the greater the decrease in these four parameters. That was very
clear and very significant."
The results are similar to a previous study by researchers at the
University of Szeged, in Hungary, which suggested a 30 per cent
reduction in sperm count among men who kept a mobile phone on standby in
their trouser pockets. The research, however, failed to control for
Such controls are important because sperm production is sensitive to a
number of factors, including obesity and heat: lorry drivers and
travelling salesmen, for example, tend to have low sperm counts because
the long hours that they spend sitting increases the temperature of
Dr Agarwal said that if the effect was caused by mobile phones, several
explanations were possible. Studies have shown that electromagnetic
fields can damage Leydig cells in the testes, and mobile phones are also
known to cause a heating effect on tissue that may be hazardous to
sperm. Both phenomena occur over short distances, so holding a phone to
the head while speaking should not be dangerous.
Fwp_dawson at hotmail.com
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