Male fertility risk through mobile phone radiation

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It has been suggested that the sperm movement and quantity of males who keep their mobile phones in their pockets may be affected.

One sperm scientist has stated that the evidence is not solid enough and he would continue to keep his mobile in his pocket.

The study, which has been published in Environment International, suggested that the blame can be put on electromagnetic radiation.

The study, involving 1492 males, analysed data from 10 separate studies on the quality of sperm. The data included laboratory tests on sperm which had been exposed to radiation from mobile phones and questionnaires completed by males at fertility clinics.

Dr Fiona Mathews, the lead researcher, stated that all, but one, of the studies indicated a link between poor sperm quality and mobile phone exposure. She stated that there is a consistent message being obtained from the studies and that is that the motility of sperm declines when it is exposed to mobile phones.

She added that there was no need for the average male to panic, however, those who are already aware of a possible problem with fertility should consider the facts and carry their phones in a different position.

She accepted the criticism from other scientists regarding the quality of the evidence, and feels that more research should be done. She stated that although the results are very interesting, scientists are not saying that every male who carries his phone in his pocket will become infertile.

The way that the damage occurs is unclear.

One of the suggestions being thrown about includes radio-frequency electromagnetic radiation from the mobile phone which disrupts sperm production or damages DNA. An alternate suggestion is that the heat from the phone or via radiation affects the sperm.

Sheffield University’s Dr Alan Pacey, who researches sperm, is not convinced. He says the quality of the evidence is poor and he would not change where he carries his phone.

Dr Pacey stated that the fear of carrying a mobile phone in your pocket and its effect on sperm has been of great concern for some time now. He added that there have been many alarming and crazy headlines, but in his opinion the studies done to date have been limited in scope. It has made use of irradiated sperm in a dish or it has assessed the phone habits of males, without taking into account other aspects of their lives.

He further added that properly designed studies which included other lifestyle factors should be done.

Image Credit: Martin Abegglen

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