Experts commenting on the latest research into cell phone and fertility describe the effect as “cooking” sperm.
Is “cooking” a potentially sensationalism claim, though?
The media is sensationalising both sides of the argument when it comes to mobile phone radiation. On one hand, certain news outlets are branding mobile phone radiation as a complete farce – it doesn’t exist – use your head as a pillow and nothing will happen to you.
Decoding the facts from media reports is difficult, but we can somewhat see the tone of the press on mobile phone radiation changing.
This is partly because the scientific community has rallied around research that indicates clear health risks posed by mobile phone radiation.
There are two main areas of interest for public health are:
- Cancer caused by mobile phones
- Infertility caused by mobile phones
Here, we’re going to look at some new links between mobile phone usage and infertility.
Table of Contents
Cognitive Dissonance in the Media
This remarkable news article from Medical News Today says “Cell Phones Pose No Health Risks”…but the scientists under question then go on to say:
Health risks from exposure to the fields have not been confirmed or proven, therefore, the experts believe that “general caution” is adequate.
If that wasn’t indicative of the cognitive dissonance seemingly ever-present around medical science, then check out these two headlines from The Daily Mail:
The second article even says: “It [mobile phone radiation] also resulted in twice the risk of developing a brain tumour over a decade” and has the audacity to brand the Berkeley research into 46 papers on mobile phone radiation as ‘controversial’. Sure, the research might have changed in this 2 year period between the two articles (it didn’t, though). But even so, this is clearly demonstrative of how media misguides public health.
With that said, this isn’t a smear of the media’s perspective on mobile phone radiation. It’s an evaluation of the latest stance on mobile phone radiation and fertility.
Mobile Radiation and Sperm
Sperm is highly sensitive to outside influences. Since the testicles are external to the body, they’re naturally vulnerable. The skin around the testes is not thick enough to absorb radiation. In fact, only bone effectively absorbs low-level mobile phone radiation.
For a bit of background, mobile phones emit radiation in the microwave and radiofrequency ranges. All electrical devices produce some level of magnetic field, but since phones communicate to aerials for signal, they also produce radiation unique to telecoms equipment. When phones are searching for a signal, they heat up, which is partly symptomatic of the radiation they produce.
Radiation falls into one of two categories:
We can see from the chart here that most radiation is non-ionising. Mobile phone radiation falls primarily into the upper microwave category.
Ionising radiation is what you see in the movies – it’s what you imagine radiation to be. It kills stuff, tearing it apart at molecular and cellular levels. Ionising radiation is what caused many exposed to the Chernobyl disaster to sustain horrific injuries. It causes cancer and DNA damage – exposure can be lethal.
X-rays are one example of ionising radiation and in large quantities, they’d wreak havoc on the body. However, X-rays are administered in such low doses for small amounts of time, so the risk is minimal.
The good news is, phones DO NOT produce ionising radiation.
The bad news is, non-ionising radiation is NOT completely benign. It doesn’t pass right through us without doing anything at all, and scientists believe it can negatively impact cells and tissues when it does pass through us.
Sperm is one such cell that has been proven to be vulnerable to non-ionising radiation, such as that found in phones.
Non-Ionising Radiation and Sperm
There are 3 main ways in which sperm health is assessed:
Most people are only familiar with sperm count.
Sperm viability refers to if sperm and ready and able to make viable candidates for fertilisation. For a fair chance at fertilising an egg, 60% or more of sperm need to be viable. This key study linked mobile phone radiation with diminishing viability. Viability could be negatively affected by DNA damage and DNA fragmentation. Read more about sperm viability and mobile phone radiation at WaveWall here.
Sperm motility refers to the movement of sperm. Sperm need to be able to swim – strong swimming sperm are more likely to reach their destination alive and ready to fertilise an egg. Some damaged sperm are unable to move properly and have poor motility. This study linked phone radiation to worsening sperm motility, stating that exposure to mobile phone radiation impaired sperms’ ability to swim. Read more about sperm motility at WaveWall here.
Sperm count is the most common measure of sperm health. The more sperm, the better the chances of fertility are. Sperm count is measured per millilitre and on average there is some 20-40 million sperm per millilitre. A measurement under 15 million is officially low. You can read more about mobile phone radiation’s impact on sperm count at WaveWall here.
Recent Research into Fertility and Mobile Phone Radiation
Two weeks ago we brought news of an Israeli study that showed dramatic increases in sperm abnormality for men using their phones for more than an hour a day or while charging. Abnormalities in sperm rose from 35.7% to 60.9% among men who used their phones for more than an hour a day. It called for further research into the links between mobile phone use – which is damaging because of the radiation produced and used by phones – and male infertility.
More experts have been commenting on that research. Speaking to the Daily Telegraph, Dr Fiona Matthews from the University of Exeter highlighted the risk to men whose sperm counts were already on the borderline and said that the scale of use of mobile phones could lead to this being “an important public health issue” and joined calls for further investigation.
Professor Gedis Grudzinskas, a Harley Street fertility consultant, also spoke to the Telegraph saying, “Men need to think about their well being and try to stop being addicted to their phones.” One of the scientists in the original study spoke out on the findings to say: “I think this is a warning to men to change their habits to improve their chances of having children.”
Even those who were conservative as to the possible extent or responsibility of cell phones conceded that further research was undoubtedly needed. Extensive trials have been put off by claims they would be too expensive. For more information about fertility and the massive variety of studies conducted into the problem have a look at mobile radiation explained.
Here is an excerpt from a recent review on the state of evidence surrounding fertility and mobile phone usage:
This should be supported by mass media to raise awareness among people regarding the possible health effects of radiofrequency emissions from mobile phones and to minimize its exposure. – INA, 2018.
With the WHO also declaring mobile phone radiation as a grade 2b possible carcinogen, it looks like we’re on the road towards increased awareness surrounding mobile phone usage and fertility.
“The working group reached the conclusion that RF radiation from devices that emit non-ionizing RF radiation in the frequency range 30 kHz-300 GHz, is a Group 2B, i.e. a ‘possible’, human carcinogen” – Hardell, 2017.
Consensus has been a long time coming, but the media still continue to confuse people with conflicting headlines.
Ultimately, the evidence is beginning to speak for itself. It’s time to take it seriously – reduce mobile phone radiation exposure today to protect your reproductive health.
This is why WaveWall has developed a range of anti-radiation phone cases to adapt to the lifestyle of men while also protecting their fertility. Not only do the cases keep phones safe from scratches but they block 85% of harmful radiation from entering the body.
What do you think about these latest findings? Should there be more research into the link between mobile phones and male infertility?
Share your thoughts in the comment section below!