Are mobile phones making men infertile?

Wednesday, 26. July 2017

Are mobile phones making men infertile?

In the industrialised nations of the West, men seem to be slowly but surely becoming infertile or impotent. It is a fact that about 40% of men worldwide suffer from reduced fertility. There are now more than 60 studies devoted to the subject of whether the radiation from mobile phones could be a cause of male infertility. The results of various studies show that heavy mobile phone usage reduces sperm quality.

The latest research results seem to support this suspicion, as the average sperm count of men in the West has fallen in recent decades to nearly half of what it was. Around 14% of married couples in the most developed countries have problems conceiving, with male infertility responsible for 40% of cases - and many others unresolved. One can assume that mobile phone radiation also has an impact on human fertility.

Results of the study

The motility of sperm was analysed in nine studies with 1448 samples from 1353 men. Six studies showed significant negative effects of mobile phone radiation on the motility of human sperm. The mean motion was between 36.6% to 86.8%. The duration of mobile phone radiation was used to divide the test subjects into short-term and long-term groups (≤ 60 or > 60 minutes). A stronger reduction in motility was observed in the long-term exposure group than in the short-term group. The viability of sperm was also examined in five studies with a total of 816 samples. Four of the five studies showed significant negative effects of mobile phone radiation on the viability of sperm, which averaged 52.3% - 89.0%. Further studies are necessary to clarify the extent of this impact. For the concentration of sperm, i.e. the number of sperm cells per ml, six studies with a total of 1376 samples were evaluated. Although the results are not clear, a link between the duration of mobile phone use and sperm mobility can be observed. However, it is important to note that studies with test groups are very difficult to compare to test-tube studies, and also it was not specified during the studies where the phone was carried – i.e. in a pocket or elsewhere?

The data nonetheless points to a negative effect of cell phone radiation on the motility and viability of sperm cells, although the impact is not so clear on the number of sperm per ml. Causes of these adverse effects could be the thermal (e.g. if the mobile phone was carried in the pocket) and non-thermal impact on tissue. Non-thermal effects can include the increase of ROS production with the subsequent DNA damage and reduced motility and survivability, as many studies have established. The trend in this meta-analysis confirms these results. That the results of individual studies show great differences could be attributed to very different exposure times. However, close to 1500 samples should yield reliable data.

Study:

  • Effect of mobile telephones on sperm quality: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Adams JA, Galloway TS, Mondal D, Esteves SC, Mathews F; Pubished in: Environment International 2014; 70: 106–112

Further studies on the subject of sperm damage and male infertility include:

  • Agarwal A, Desai NR, Makker K, Varghese A, Mouradi Effects of radiofrequency electromagnetic waves (RF-EMW) from cellular phones on human ejaculated semen: an in vitro pilot study
  • Al-Damegh Schädigung von Rattenhoden durch Strahlung eines normalen Mobiltelefons und die schützenden Wirkungen der Antioxidantien Vitamin C und E.
  • Falzone N, Huyser C, Becker P, Leszczynski D, Fran The effect of pulsed 900-MHz GSM mobile phone radiation on the acrosome reaction, head morphometry and zona binding of human spermatozoa
  • Ghanbari M Die Wirkung von Mobilfunkstrahlung (900 MHz) auf Spermien und die antioxidative Gesamt-Kapazität bei Ratten.
  • Gorpinchenko I Der Einfluss direkter Mobiltelefon-Bestrahlung auf die Spermienqualität.
  • Hanci H Der Einfluss pränataler Einwirkung eines elektromagnetischen 900-Megahertz-Feldes auf den Hoden 21 Tage alter Ratten.
  • Iuliis Geoffry N. De, Rhiannon J. Newey, Bruce V. Mobile Phone Radiation Induces Reactive Oxygen Species Production and DNA Damage in Human Spermatozoa In Vitro
  • Kumar S Wirkung elektromagnetischer Bestrahlung eines 3G-Handys auf das männliche Reproduktionssystem der Ratte in einem simulierten Szenario.
  • Liu C Einwirkung von 1800-MHz-Strahlung induziert oxidative Schädigung in den DNA-Basen einer Spermatozyten-Zelllinie der Maus.
  • Mailankot Maneesh, Anil P Kunnath, Jayalekshmi H, Radio frequency electromagnetic radiation(RF-EMR) from GSM(0.9/1.8GHz) mobile phones induces oxidative stress and reduces sperm motility in rats
  • Otitoloju AA, Obe IA, Adewale OA, Otubanjo OA, Osu Preliminary Study on the Induction of Sperm Head Abnormalities in Mice, Mus musculus, Exposed to Radiofrequency Radiations from Global System for Mobile Communication Base Stations
  • Salama N, Kishimoto T, Kanayama HO Effects of exposure to a mobile phone on testicular function and structure in adult rabbit
  • Wdowiak A, Wdowiak L, Wiktor H. Evaluation of the effect of using mobile phones on male fertility
  • Yan JG, Agresti M, Bruce T, Yan YH, Granlund A, Ma Effects of cellular phone emissions on sperm motility in rats