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26 October 2006
Cell Phone Effect On Sperm Divides Experts
by George Atkinson

A study into the effects of cell phones on sperm quality has divided fertility experts. The study, conducted by researchers from the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio, was presented at the recent American Society for Reproductive Medicine conference.

The study, led by Dr Ashok Agarwal, was designed to assess whether the electromagnetic radiation emitted by cell phones has any harmful effects on the male reproductive system. Specifically, sperm quality was assessed using various markers of semen quality (count, motility, viability etc) and details of the subjects cell phone usage were recorded. The study itself was relatively small, taking in only 364 subjects.

The results indicate that while differences between sperm counts of the men were not significant, the differences in other markers of sperm health were dramatic. Motility and viability dropped by around 5 percent for each hour of daily phone usage.

Even more worryingly, morphology dropped by around 10 percent for each hour of daily phone usage.

"There was a significant decrease in the most important measures of sperm health and mobiles could be having a devastating effect on fertility," concluded Dr Agarwal, adding that the effects do not appear to depend on the initial semen quality of the subjects. Speculating about the effect behind the results, Dr Agarwal said that radiation might be damaging the DNA of the cells in the testes. He believes that large-scale studies are now needed to identify the exact mechanism causing the reduction in semen quality.

But other experts are not so sure about the conclusions drawn from the results, questioning how a device held to the ear could affect the testes. Interviewed by the BBC, UK fertility expert Dr Allan Pacey said that people who use cell phones for longer might be more sedentary, more stressed or eat more junk-food, which might be more likely explanations for the link found in the study.

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Based on material from The Cleveland Clinic

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