Cell Phone Radiation Effects on Fertility

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Does cell phone radiation have an effect on sperm motility and DNA damage? 

“Unexplained declines in semen quality” have been reported in many countries. Radiation need not be atomic-bomb gamma rays. The warm glow of sunshine on your face is radiation, too. Does the specific type of radiation emitted by cell phones affect male fertility? I address that in my video Do Cell Phones Lower Sperm Counts?.

After the “World Health Organization (WHO) officially declared that cell phones… [could possibly] cause brain cancer,” many switched to hands-free devices and began keeping their phones in their pants and using technology like Bluetooth — away from the brain, but “close to the gonads.” Researchers found that “exposure to mobile phones was associated with reduced sperm motility… and viability,” though not necessarily sperm concentration.

Sperm motility appeared to be about 8% lower, but that alone may not translate into reduced fertility unless you’re starting out with a marginal sperm count. It may be better to avoid keeping an active cell phone in a trouser pocket for long periods of time, especially if you’re a man with preexisting fertility problems.

Wi-Fi may also be an issue. Researchers found “the total number of motile sperm… were decreased in a group who used a wireless internet compared with ones who used the wired internet.”

Those were observational studies, though. Perhaps the reason for the apparent link is that men using Wi-Fi tend to ride more horses or smoke more. We can’t know until it’s put to the test, but, unfortunately, many of the studies were conducted on rats. While the microwaves emitted from cell phones don’t seem to affect rat testicles, it can be argued that we can’t necessarily extrapolate from animal models, since, for example, rats’ scrotums are “non pendulous” — meaning their testicles are more inside rather than swinging around outside of their bodies.

Men with “subfertility issues” may not want to keep their phones in their front pants pocket in close proximity to the testicles. Even when not in use, mobile phones emit radiation periodically to keep pinging their location. 

What happens when cell phones are in proximity to common metal objects? I show a cross-section at crotch level at 3:02 in my video. You may have a metal zipper on your pants and a key ring, along with your phone, in your pocket. “When all three objects were added, the SAR [the amount of radiation absorbed] in both the leg and in the testicles was generally increased and approximately doubled…”

Researchers found significantly more DNA fragmentation in sperm exposed to cell phone radiation, starting within an hour of exposure. This effect is so dramatic that they suggest women might not want to pocket their phones for a few days after trying to get pregnant, so as not to put the sperm at further ris

This article first appeared on Nutrition Facts.

Tags: fertility, Technology, wellness

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Written By

Dr. Michael Greger

A founding member and Fellow of the American College of Lifestyle Medicine, Michael Greger, MD, is a physician, New York T... See Full Bio

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