Cellphones linked to male fertility issues

A new study conducted by the University of Exeter shows that men who keep their cellphones in their pockets may be harming their ability to father a child.

The study, lead by Dr Fiona Mathews, of Biosciences at the University, was published in the journal Environment International.

It was based on previous research which suggested that exposure to radio-frequency electromagnetic radiation (RF-EMR) emitted by cellphones can have a detrimental effect on male fertility.

Dr Mathews conducted a systematic review of the findings from 10 studies, including 1,492 samples, with the aim of clarifying the potential role of this environmental exposure.

Participants in the studies were from fertility clinics and research centres, and sperm quality was measured in three different ways:

  • Motility (the ability of sperm to move properly towards an egg),
  • Viability (the proportion of sperm that were alive); and
  • Concentration (the number of sperm per unit of semen).

The results of the study found that, in control groups, 50-85% of sperm had normal movement. The researchers found this proportion fell by an average of 8 percentage points amid exposure to mobile phones.

Similar effects were seen for sperm viability. The effects on sperm concentration were less clear, the university noted.

It also found that the results were consistent across in vitro studies conducted under controlled conditions and observational in vivo studies on men in the general population.

“Given the enormous scale of mobile phone use around the world, the potential role of this environmental exposure needs to be clarified. This study strongly suggests that being exposed to radio-frequency electromagnetic radiation from carrying mobiles in trouser pockets negatively affects sperm quality,” Dr Mathews said.

“This could be particularly important for men already on the borderline of infertility, and further research is required to determine the full clinical implications for the general population.”

Warning signs piling up

This latest research joins a growing list of studies claiming opposite views on the dangers of cellphone radiation.

In early June, research published in the Neurological Research journal, claimed that exposure to cellular radiation leads to neurological degeneration, causing alterations in the way mobile users learn and remember things.

The study, which was based on tests done on rats, noted a significant change in behavior in test subjects exposed to 900 MHz radio waves by means of a mobile hand set for 4 hours per day for 15 days.

In May, a peer-reviewed study also found evidence that intensive mobile phone use could put cellphone users at risk of developing certain types of brain cancer – though regular users appeared to be safe.

The study was conducted by researchers from Bordeaux University and published in the peer-reviewed Occupational & Environmental Medicine journal.

While the researchers found no association between regular mobile phone use and risk of the brain tumour (phoning at least once a week for six months or more), they did find an increased risk of common types of brain tumors with intensive mobile phone use (active calling for more than 15 hours per month).

These findings are counter to an earlier study by the Mobile Telecommunications and Health Research (MTHR) Programme, which found that exposure to radiation from mobile phones and base stations will not increase the risk of developing cancer.

This article was first published on BusinessTech.

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Cellphones linked to male fertility issues