Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Cell Phones and Sperm Potency

The Daily Mail has published an article suggesting a strong correlation between male infertility and cell phone usage. Since male infertility is the cause of the infertility problems of couples in about 40% of cases, this study could be quite significant, especially if it is replicable.

According to the Daily Mail, the study involved 361 men. Forty never use cell phones, 107 use them fewer than two hours daily, 100 make calls on them between two and four hours per day, and the daily usage of cell phones for the remaining 114 is over four hours.

Scientists measured four indicators of sperm potency: count, viability (that is, if non-swimming sperm are still living), morphology (appearance relative to the norm), and motility (swimming ability).

The main finding of the study was that the more men used cell phones, the larger the reduction in each of the indicators of sperm potency. Men using their cell phones over four hours per day had a twenty-five percent lower sperm count than non-users. Motility of the sperm of those men was down by a third, and only a fifth of their sperm appeared normal when examined under a microscope.

Professor Ashok Agarwal, the lead researcher in this study, suggested several reasons why cell phones may cause poor sperm quality in men. However, he also stated that it was too soon to issue warnings to men about cell phone usage and infertility. “We still have a long way to go to prove this but we have just had another study approved,” he said.

Of course with all studies, one must be careful not to confuse correlation with causation. There may be other factors in common amongst heavy cell phone users that should be examined before leaping to the conclusion that the cell phones themselves are the issue. In other words, cell phone usage may be connected with other traits such as relative inactivity, excessive time spent in warm places such as cars or trains, stress level, or poor eating habits, all of which were pointed out by Dr. Allan Pacey, an expert in andrology from the University of Sheffield.

This cell phone issue is something to keep an eye on, anyway.

Hat tip: RightWingNews


At 10/24/2006 1:30 PM, Blogger Christopher Taylor said...

Assuming this study is even valid... where are these guys keeping their phones?? I know you can put them on vibrate rather than ringtone but...

At 10/24/2006 2:35 PM, Anonymous Andy said...

I am surprised a study was conducted on such a small test group. Can any scientific weight be behind this? Don't you need thousands?

At 10/24/2006 7:21 PM, Blogger Anna Venger said...

Enough with the vibrate mode, already!

Actually the first few times that mine went off in vibrate, I was sure I was being electrocuted. When I told Mr. Venger, who actually has been electrocuted, he said that was precisely what it felt like.

At 10/24/2006 7:41 PM, Blogger Christopher Taylor said...

Yeah I guess it's kind of shocking, I don't have one so I don't know from personal experience.

It seems to me that the test is an awfully sloppy one, but that's no surprise. Its easy to get grants and publicity with lousy work as long as it's ominous enough sounding or kicks the right people in the teeth. It's like the media likes being manipulated sometimes.

At 10/24/2006 8:03 PM, Blogger Anna Venger said...

Years ago it was cell phones caused brain tumors. So I wonder if this one will turn out the same way. But it was just one of those eye-catching articles that I had to look.

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