It’s certain that Nigerians have found mobile phones very useful and inseparable for the obvious reasons that the device has opened our eyes to many easier ways of doing things; including communication and transacting businesses. But if you are a already addicted to cell phones so much that you use them for hours cumulatively, you may need to rethink. There is a very strong link between the rising spate of infertility and the frequent use of cell phones. Cell phones are going to be more in use during this festive season, so we advice that you read this.
Research into the fertility of men who regularly carry and use mobile phones has suggested their sperm count can be cut by up to 30 per cent, reducing chances of conception.
The study is the first to indicate that male fertility may be damaged by the radiation emitted by mobile phones. Men who carry the phone in a belt holster or trouser pocket are thought to be at the highest risk and could one day be advised to put the mobile in a bag or briefcase and away from vulnerable areas.
The researchers studied 221 men for 13 months comparing the sperm of those who used their phones heavily with others who did not.
They found that heavy users of mobile phones, those who carried their phone around with them most of the time, had their sperm counts reduced by nearly 30 per cent. Many of the sperm that did survive showed abnormal movements which further reduced fertility.
While the research suggests an effect on the sperm, the scientists say further work will need to be done to confirm the finding and establish the mechanism by which it might happen.
In the paper, Dr Imre Fejes of the obstetrics and gynaecology department at the University of Szeged in Hungary concludes: “The prolonged use of cell phones may have a negative effect on spermatogenesis (sperm production) and male fertility that deteriorates both concentration and motility.”
Unlike previous studies, the researchers believe that phones may cause damage while in stand-by mode. Although not in use, they make regular transmissions to maintain contact with the nearest radio masts. It had been assumed such transmissions were too short to cause harm.
In the study, the researchers looked at men using mobile phones operating on a single frequency
Lawrence Challis, emeritus professor of physics at Nottingham University, who chairs the government’s Mobile Telecommunications and Health Research Group, said that although there were many studies into the health effects of mobile phones, the results were too contradictory to draw firm conclusions.
“There is no conclusive evidence of damage to health, but mobile phones have only been around for about 15 years,” he said. “Many serious diseases take much longer than that to produce symptoms and there is no way the research could show this up.”
Later this year Challis will announce plans for the world’s biggest study into the health impact of mobile phones. He wants to follow the lives of 250,000 people for at least 15 years — simultaneously tracking their phone usage from data supplied by mobile phone companies.
Challis also sits on the Advisory Group on Non-ionising Radiation. In a report last January it reviewed the evidence for damage to sperm by mobile phone radiation, but concluded that although there was a theoretical risk there was too little research to draw conclusions.
A spokesperson for the Mobile Operators Association, which represents the five main UK mobile phone network operators, said there was still no firm evidence of damage to health. “Successive studies have found no adverse health effects,” she said. o New doubts are being raised over the safety of Viagra, the impotence drug, after experiments showed it may damage sperm and sharply reduce male fertility.
In the work at Queen’s University Belfast, the researchers found female mice impregnated by a male treated with Viagra produced only about half the normal number of viable embryos.
The researchers also found that Viagra altered the mice’s sperm motility, a key measure of fertility, and that it caused premature changes in the acrosome, the part of the sperm that helps it enter and fertilise an egg cell.
The new study suggests the same problems will occur in human patients. More than 40 per cent of clinics prescribe Viagra to male patients in the belief that it will increase sperm production.
Earlier, test-tube research into Viagra’s effect on human sperm, by the same group, also suggested a risk. It found the drug made sperm swim too fast and caused other damaging physiological changes.
Yet, another research point at a worrying link between poor sperm and the number of hours a day that a man uses his mobile phone.
Those who made calls on a mobile phone for more than four hours a day had the worst sperm counts and the poorest quality sperm, according to results released at the American Society for Reproductive Medicine annual meeting in New Orleans.
Doctors believe the damage could be caused by the electromagnetic radiation emitted by handsets or the heat they generate.
The findings suggest millions of men may encounter difficulties in fathering a child due to the widespread use of mobile phones and offers another possible explanation for plummeting fertility levels among British males.
Sperm counts among British men have fallen by 29 per cent over the years, a drop which has also been blamed on increasing obesity, smoking, stress, pollution and ‘gender-bending’ chemicals which disrupt the hormone system.
The latest study backs up previous research which indicated a link between mobile phone use and sperm quality, but it is the biggest and best designed to date.
US researchers in Cleveland and New Orleans, and doctors in Mumbai, India, looked at more than 360 men undergoing checks at a fertility clinic who were classified into three groups according to their sperm count.
Men who used a mobile for more than four hours a day had a 25 per cent lower sperm count than men who never used a mobile.
The men with highest usage also had greater problems with sperm quality, with the swimming ability of sperm – a crucial factor in conception – down by a third.
They had a 50 per cent drop in the number of properly formed sperm, with just one-fifth looking normal under a microscope.
Professor Ashok Agarwal, director of the Reproductive Research Centre at the Cleveland Clinic, Ohio, who led the study, said "Almost a billion people are using cell phones around the world and the number is growing in many countries at 20 to 30 per cent a year.
"In another five years the number is going to double. People use mobile phones without thinking twice what the consequences may be.
"It is just like using a toothbrush but mobiles could be having a devastating effect on fertility. It still has to be proved but it could have a huge impact because mobiles are so much part of our lives."
Altogether 361 men in the study were divided into four groups, with 40 never using a mobile, 107 men using them for less than two hours a day, 100 men using them for two-four hours daily and 114 making calls for four or more hours a day.
The main finding was that on four measures of sperm potency – count, motility, viability and morphology, or appearance – there were significant differences between the groups.
The greater the use of mobile phones, the greater the reduction in each measure, Prof Agarwal said that "this was very clear and very significant”.
The WHO says a normal sperm count is above 20 million per millilitre of seminal fluid. "There was a significant decrease in the most important measures of sperm health with cell phone use and that should definitely be reflected in a decrease in fertility" he said.
Motility measures the swimming ability of sperm, viability measures whether non-swimming sperm are still alive while morphology is the appearance compared to the norm.
Prof Agarwal said the most likely mechanism was damage to sperm-making cells in the testes caused by electromagnetic radiation or heat, although a fall in hormone production could also affect sperm motility and sperm DNA.
He said: "These cells in the testes have been shown to be susceptible to electromagnetic waves in previous research in animals.
"Somehow electromagnetic waves may be causing direct damage to these cells and that perhaps causes a decrease in sperm production."
Mobiles may also increase temperature in the groin, if a man was wearing it on a belt or carrying it around in a pocket.
Prof Agarwal said it was too early to advise men trying to start a family about whether they should limit their mobile phone use.
More than 40 million people in Britain are thought to use mobile phones. Alasdair Philips, director of the consumer pressure group Powerwatch said "It’s a plausible link between the amount of time spent using a mobile phone and a possible effect on male fertility.
"The eyes, breasts and testicles are the areas of the body most likely to absorb the energy and many men carry their mobiles attached to their belt."
Sending text messages uses less power than talking but it can be a more intense emission of radiation, especially on trains, he said.
"I’ve seen men on trains spending two or three hours continually texting with their mobile phones held in their laps, and they press Send in the same position when it starts to seek a signal.
"This needs a considerable amount of power within what is effectively a metal box. We advise people to send a text with their arm outstretched next to the window when travelling on a train" he added.
He said local heating of the groin triggered by a mobile phone might also be involved in affecting sperm quality.
"Sperm is very temperature sensitive as shown by many studies, and a short-term rise in temperature could be responsible" he added.