Thursday, February 07, 2008

Effect of cell phone usage on semen analysis: observational study

Another report on cell phone use and male fertility. I had previously reported on this topic on this blog.
This article published on Fertility and Sterility this month (2/2008) is from a reputable institution the Cleveland Clinic and i think it's findings are quite relevant. Here is the Abstract below


To investigate the effect of cell phone use on various markers of semen quality.


Observational study.


Infertility clinic.


Three hundred sixty-one men undergoing infertility evaluation were divided into four groups according to their active cell phone use: group A: no use; group B: <2>4 h/day.



Main Outcome Measure(s)

Sperm parameters (volume, liquefaction time, pH, viscosity, sperm count, motility, viability, and morphology).


The comparisons of mean sperm count, motility, viability, and normal morphology among four different cell phone user groups were statistically significant. Mean sperm motility, viability, and normal morphology were significantly different in cell phone user groups within two sperm count groups. The laboratory values of the above four sperm parameters decreased in all four cell phone user groups as the duration of daily exposure to cell phones increased.


Use of cell phones decrease the semen quality in men by decreasing the sperm count, motility, viability, and normal morphology. The decrease in sperm parameters was dependent on the duration of daily exposure to cell phones and independent of the initial semen quality.

I do not think in modern society most people would be able to survive without cell phones. These phones operate between 400 MHz and 2000 MHz frequency bands and emit radiofrequency electromagnetic waves (EMW). Reports of potential adverse effects of radiofrequencyelectromagnetic waves have been reported for a few years now with the gretest concern for the brain.

As the article states

These phones operate at different frequencies in different countries and continents. Exposure of radiofrequency energy depends upon the frequency of the cellular phone. Analog phones operate at 450–900 MHz, digital phones (Global System for Mobile Communications [GSM]) at 850–1900 MHz, and third-generation phones at approximately 2000 MHz . For years the cell phone companies have assured people that cell phones are perfectly safe. For assessing exposure from transmitters located near the body, the most useful quantity is the specific absorption rate (SAR), the amount of radiofrequency energy absorbed from the phone into the local tissues. The SAR of cell phones varies from 0.12 to 1.6 W/kg body weight depending upon the model. In the United States, the upper limit of SAR allowed is 1.6 W/kg .
So pretty much by now we have evidence that excessive phone use may have adverse health effects. I think this study is very relevant because it is the first study that showed what we in medicine call a dose-response relationship . That is the more cell phone usage the less the sperm. For the record the highest users in the study talked on the cell for more than 4 hours per day but an effect was already seen in men who talked for less than 2 hours a day. In the control group were men who reported no cell phone use ( i wonder where they found these guys id did not think they exhisted!)
the study has some limitations: most notably cell use was self reported , and everybody had a different phone, and no account was taken for where the phone was kept when not in use. Nevertheless the message is clear : "The decrease in sperm parameters was dependent on the duration of daily exposure to cell phones and independent of the initial semen quality".

So what to do?
1) Cut down phone use to less than 2 hours/day .
We are frequently lazy. I personally reach for the cell even when i am sitting in my office
2) Do not Keep the phone in your pocket.
Those belt carriers may make you look a bit nerdy but at least you are not applying the phone directly to your testicles!
3) Get a Phone with lower emissions!
Check the information provided below to figure out which phone is best for you.

Below Is The Information that You need if you want to learn more about cell phone emissions
(source: Federal Communication Commission)

Cellular Phone Specific Absorption Rate

The SAR is a value that corresponds to the relative amount of RF energy absorbed in the head of a user of a wireless handset. The FCC limit for public exposure from cellular telephones is an SAR level of 1.6 watts per kilogram (1.6 W/kg). Specific Absorption Rate (SAR) for Wireless Phones and Devices Available at various Web sites.

The easiest way to ascertain SAR for many cellular phones is via the FCC's links to individual manufacturers' Web sites: On this page you will find links to most manufacturers' Web pages that include SAR information for their phones, along with instructions on how to search each site for SAR information.

You can also obtain SAR information on many cellular phones from the FCC's database if you have the FCC ID number of the phone or device and if it was produced and marketed within the last 1-2 years.

The FCC ID number is usually shown somewhere on the case of the phone or device. In many cases, you will have to remove the battery pack to find the number. Once you have the number proceed as follows. Go to the following Web site: . Once you are there you will see instructions for inserting the FCC ID number. Enter the FCC ID number (in two parts as indicated: "Grantee Code" is comprised of the first three characters, the "Equipment Product Code" is the remainder of the FCC ID). Then click on "Start Search." The grant of equipment authorization for this particular ID number should appear. Look through the grant for the section on SAR compliance, certification of compliance with FCC rules for RF exposure or similar language. This section should contain the value(s) for typical or maximum SAR for your phone.

For portable phones and devices authorized since June 2, 2000 , maximum SAR levels should be noted on the grant of equipment authorization. For phones and devices authorized between about mid-1998 and June 2000, detailed information on SAR levels is typically found in the "exhibits" associated with the grant of equipment authorization. Therefore, once a grant is accessed these exhibits can be viewed by clicking on the appropriate entry labeled "View Exhibit."

Electronic records for FCC equipment authorization grants were initiated in 1998. Therefore, prior to this date FCC records for grants are in the form of paper records that are not part of our electronic database. At this time, due to staff limitations, we are unable to routinely search through FCC paper records to extract SAR information for grants filed prior to mid- to late-1998.

If you want additional consumer information on safety of cell phones and other transmitting devices please consult the information available below at this Web Site. In particular, you may wish to read or download our OET Bulletin 56 (see "RF Safety Bulletins") entitled: "Questions and Answers about Biological Effects and Potential Hazards of Radiofrequency Electromagnetic Fields." If you have any problems or additional questions you may contact us at RF Safety ( . [ July 18, 2000 ]

You may also wish to consult a consumer update on mobile phone safety published by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) that can be found at: .

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