Cell Phone Use Linked to Lower Sperm CountsFeb 7, 2008 | Parker Waichman LLP
Cell Phone Exposure - Already a Suspect in Some Types of Cancer
Cell phone exposure - already a suspect in some types of cancer - has been linked to decreased fertility in some men. It seems, spending hours on a cell phone each day may affect the quality of a man's sperm based on finding from a study of 361 men seen at the infertility clinic at the Cleveland Clinic.
What the researchers learned was that—on average—the more time the men spent on their cell phones each day, the lower their sperm count. Not only did the study reveal a lowering of sperm count, researchers discovered that the men in the study who used cell phone heavily had a greater percentage of abnormal sperm. The findings did not find that cell phones damage sperm. "Our results show a strong association of cell phone use with decreased semen quality. However, they do not prove a cause-and- effect relationship," lead researcher Dr. Ashok Agarwal told Reuters Health. The findings, published in the journal Fertility and Sterility, add to fuel to the ongoing debate and issues about and surrounding the potential health effects and risks of cell phones and other wireless devices. Some studies, for example, have linked long-term cell phone use to an increased risk of brain tumors.
The Electromagnetic Energy Emitted from Mobile Phones Could Theoretically Harm Body Tissue
The general concern is that, over time, the electromagnetic energy emitted from mobile phones could theoretically harm body tissue, for instance, by damaging DNA.
Agarwal and his colleagues based their findings on semen samples from the 361 men who came to their infertility clinic over the period of one year. All of the men providing samples were questioned about their cell phone habits. In general, the researchers found, sperm count and sperm quality tended to decline as daily cell phone hours increased. Men who said they used their phones for more than four hours each day had the lowest average sperm count and the fewest normal, viable sperm. "We infer from our results that heavy cell phone use...is associated with a lower semen quality," Agarwal said. It remains unclear if cell phones somehow directly affect men's fertility. Agarwal said he and his colleagues have two studies underway that are looking to clarify this issue. In one, researchers are exposing semen samples to electromagnetic radiation from cell phones to see what, if any, effects occur. The second study is a follow-up to the current study that is assessing a larger group of men. Agarwal said this study is more rigorously designed and will account for certain other factors such as lifestyle habits and occupational exposures that might also have an effect on sperm quality.
Last month the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (USDA) called for a re-examination of cell phone health risks saying that past studies related to cell phone radiation need to be re-examined given the recent rise in mobile devices and their use. This follows a recent suggestion from the U.S. National Research Council advising further studies should be conducted on children and pregnant women to determine if cell phones or other wireless devices could damage health.