On the list of cancer-causing boogeymen, cellphones are pretty high on the list. For years, people have been saying that they cause cancer – and for years almost as many people have been saying that the cancer/cellphone link is total bull.
It’s a heavily debated proposition within the scientific community, and it seems like we get a new report every couple of weeks telling us to watch out or telling us to have no fear. Really, the cellphone/cancer debate is a crapshoot anyways. Even if you had definitive proof the cellphones raise the likelihood of cancer, would you stop using yours? I know I probably couldn’t live without it.
A new study about cellphone radiation isn’t talking about cancer, but about sperm.
An Italian report published in the Journal of Andrology has found a link between the radio-frequency electromagnetic radiation (Rf-EMR) produced by mobile phones and both decreased sperm count and decreased sperm quality.
The study focused on groups of both humans and rats. In one experiment, rats were placed in glass cages with cellphones attached to the bottom. The rats were then exposed to the RF-EMR for 6 hours a day for four month. When they tested the rats’ sperm, they found a 25% drop in the amount of live sperm. They also found that the sperm was sticking together, which makes it harder to do its job when it gets to the egg.
As far as the humans go, the researchers found that RF-EMR decreased sperm count and mobility, and viability. From the study:
Altogether the results of these studies show that RF-EMR decreases sperm count and motility, and increases the oxidative stress. In human beings, two different experimental approaches have been followed, one has explored the effects of RF-EMR directly on spermatozoa and the other has evaluated the sperm parameters in men using or not mobile phones. The results show that human spermatozoa exposed to RF-EMR have decreased motility, morphometric abnormalities, and increased oxidative stress, whereas men using mobile phones have decreased sperm concentration, motility (particularly the rapid progressive one), normal morphology, and viability. These abnormalities seem to be directly related with the length of mobile phone use.
One prevailing theory is that men who keep their cellphones in their pockets increase their risk of damaged sperm.
Of course, like most scientific studies, more research is demanded –
Nevertheless, more studies are necessary to provide stronger evidences that cellular phone use disturb sperm and testicular function since the existing literature has several limitations. These include dishomogeneity in terms of RF wavelength used, depth of penetration, and length of radiation exposure.
The researchers aren’t quite sure which types of cellphones and cell service are doing the most harm.
Of course, studies like this aren’t conclusive, but this isn’t the first time cellphones have been linked to sperm problems. A Cleveland Clinic study found similar results a couple years ago. As a precaution, it might not hurt to see how your cellphone feels in your back pocket, fellas.