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 Infertility is only a phone call away_Mobile phone use cuts

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PostSubject: Infertility is only a phone call away_Mobile phone use cuts   Thu Sep 20, 2007 10:10 pm

Infertility is only a phone call away

Wednesday October 25, 2006

By Jeremy Laurance





Mobile phones have been identified as a cause of reduced sperm production in men.



Microwaves emitted by the phones reduce the number, mobility and
quality of sperm by almost half in the heaviest users, to the point
where some men may become infertile, scientists say.



This could have devastating consequences for fertility rates around the world.



Almost a billion people around the world use mobile phones, and the number is growing.



Even a small effect on fertility could result in millions of men being rendered childless.



Concern about the health effects of mobile phones has been rising for
10 years, but very little hard evidence of the dangers has been
presented.



Scientists from the Reproductive Research Centre at the Cleveland
Clinic Foundation in Ohio, tested the sperm of 364 men being
investigated for infertility.



They found that the heaviest users of mobile phones - more than four
hours a day - had the lowest sperm counts at 50 million a millilitre
and the least healthy sperm, judged by its mobility and the proportion
of abnormal sperm.



Sperm counts were highest - 86 million a millilitre - and the sperm healthiest among those men who did not use mobile phones.



All men produce a high proportion of sperm that are abnormal, but in
the heaviest mobile users the "normal" sperm fell to 18 per cent
compared with 40 per cent in those who never used mobiles.



The study was carried out in Bombay, India, where mobile phones have not yet penetrated all social groups.



Professor Ashok Agarwal, director of the research centre, who led the
study, said: "On all four parameters - sperm count, mobility, viability
and morphology - there were significant differences between the groups.




"The greater the use of cell phones, the greater the decrease in these parameters. That was very clear and very significant.



"People use mobile phones without thinking what the consequences may
be. It is 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."



Among the heaviest users in the study, with an average sperm count of
50 million a millilitre, some had individual sperm counts of less than
20 million a millilitre.



This is below the threshold set by the World Health Organisation which defines infertility, Professor Agarwal said.



The finding, presented to the American Society for Reproductive
Medicine meeting in New Orleans this week, will spark renewed concern
about the safety of mobile phones which have been blamed for a wide
range of ill effects, from headaches to cancer.



But critics said the only men likely to be affected were those who
carried their phones in their pockets or on their laps, close to their
testicles, while they made calls.



A report by Britain's National Radiological Protection Board published
last year concluded there was "no hard evidence" that mobile phones
caused harm, but it was too early to say if they were safe.



It said health problems could take decades to emerge and, because of
the ubiquity of mobile phones, a "precautionary approach" was
necessary.



Children, whose bodies were still developing, were most likely to be vulnerable, it said.



Another study last year by Professor John Aitken, a British researcher
at the University of Newcastle in New South Wales, showed radio waves
of a similar frequency to those emitted by mobile phones damaged sperm
DNA in mice.



Other studies have shown the seminiferous tubules, where sperm is
produced in the testes, shrink when exposed to the speech transmission
mode of mobile phones.



Professor Agarwal said phone could be causing direct damage to the
Leydig cells in the testes, which have been shown to be susceptible to
microwaves, or could be setting up a heating effect or damaging the
sperm DNA.



Among scientists sceptical of the study findings is Allan Pacey, senior lecturer in andrology at the University of Sheffield.



"This is a good-quality study but I don't think it tackles the issue," he said.



"If you're using your phone for four hours a day, presumably it is out of your pocket for longer.



"That raises a big question - how is testicular damage supposed to
occur? If you are holding it to your head to speak, it makes no sense
that it is having an effect on your testes.



"Maybe people who use a phone for four hours a day spend more time sitting in cars, which could mean there's a heat issue.



"It could be they are more stressed, or more sedentary and sit about
eating junk food getting fat. Those seem to be better explanations than
a phone causing the damage at such a great distance."



But Alasdair Philips, director of the British 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 attach their mobiles to their belt."




"I've seen men on trains spending two or three hours texting with their
mobile phones held in their laps. They press 'send' in the same
position, and the phone starts to seek a signal. This needs a
considerable amount of power within what is effectively a metal box.



"We advise people to send texts with their arm outstretched next to the window when travelling on a train."



He said local heating of the groin triggered by a mobile phone might
also affect sperm quality. "Sperm is temperature-sensitive, and a
short-term rise in temperature could be responsible."





The risk



Are mobile phones killing men's sperm?

* Yes, say Indian and American scientists who found reduced sperm counts among heavy mobile users.

* Not necessarily, say other scientists, who cite other possible factors such as junk food or lack of exercise.









Mobile phone use cuts male fertility by a third



Using a mobile phone can slash a man's sperm count by almost a third, new research suggests today.



A study found that radiation from mobile phones appeared to have a
dramatic impact not only on numbers of sperm, but also their swimming
ability or "motility".



In both cases, levels were cut by about 30%. Reductions in sperm count and motility lower the chances of conception.



The research is the first to show that male fertility may be damaged by electromagnetic signals from mobile phones.



A team led by Dr Imre Fejes, from the University of Szeged in Hungary, looked at 221 men for a period of 13 months.



Sperm from very active users of mobiles was compared with that of non-users.



Lowered concentration



Dr Fejes found that men who carried a phone with them on stand-by
throughout the day had significantly lowered sperm concentration.



Their counts averaged at 59.11 million sperm per millilitre of seminal
fluid compared with 82.97 million for men not continually exposed to
mobile phone radiation.



Motility was similarly affected by mobile phone transmissions, the study found.



Men who made lengthy calls had fewer rapidly motile sperm - 36.31% compared with 51.34% for men who made no calls.



Dr Fejes, who will this week present the findings at the annual
conference of the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology
(ESHRE) in Berlin, said: "The prolonged use of cell phones may have a
negative effect on spermatogenesis and male fertility, that presumably
deteriorates both concentration and motility."



Further studies needed



However the scientists said they recognised that further studies were necessary to confirm the results.



Experts so far have been unable to come to any firm conclusions about
the safety of mobile phones because study findings have been so
contradictory.



The Government has adopted a "precautionary" approach, offering advice aimed at reducing the mobile phone exposure of children.



A major obstacle is that mobile phones have only been in use for about
15 years, and it may take more time for long-term health effects to
become apparent.



Caution



Leading gynaecologist Professor Hans Evers, from the Academic Hospital
in Maastricht, the Netherlands, urged caution when interpreting the new
findings.



In particular he questioned whether the results could have been influenced by lifestyle, social background and age.



"This research is interesting but raises more questions than it answers," said Professor Evers, last year's ESHRE chairman.



"It is an observational as opposed to interventional study which
appears not to take into account the many potential confounding factors
which could have skewed the results.



"For example, what if heavy mobile phone users in Hungary have
particularly stressful lives and jobs? What if they come from a
different age group or social class than the non users?



"These factors would have a considerable effect on the outcome of the research."



The Mobile Operators' Association, which represents UK networks,
insisted there was still no firm evidence that mobile phones could
damage health.



"Successive studies have found no adverse health effects," said a spokeswoman



================================================== ====



Carrying a mobile phone in a pocket or on a belt damages men's fertility,experts warn



A study found that men who carried a phone in this way had sperm counts
almost 15 per cent lower than those who did not use mobiles or carried
them differently.



Their sperm was also found to have poorer motility or swimming ability
- another crucial factor in conception - than samples from other men.



The findings, which back up similar results of a Hungarian study last
year, suggest electromagnetic radiation from mobile phones could affect
sperm production.



Leigh Simmons, a biologist at the University of Western Australia and one of the scientists behind the study, said:



"After other lifestyle factors had been accounted for, storage of
mobile phones close to the testes had a significant negative impact on
sperm concentration and the percentage of motile sperm.



"These trends suggest that recent concerns over long-term exposure to
the electromagnetic irradiation emitted by mobile phones should be
taken more seriously, given the growing trend for deterioration in male
sperm counts."



The Australian study, published yesterday in the Royal Society journal
Biology Letters, looked at 52 men aged between 18 and 35.



Those who carried a mobile phone in their hip pocket or on their belt
had an average sperm count of around 65million per millilitre of semen
- compared with around 75million for other men.



According to the World Health Organisation, a man is infertile if he has a sperm count below 20million per millilitre of semen.



Last year, a major study of male fertility found that sperm counts
among British men had fallen by 29 per cent over the past decade.



Although the average count is well above the level at which doctors
would diagnose infertility, a continuing fall of two per cent a year
would mean men born in the middle of the next century could be classed
as infertile.



The drop in sperm counts has been blamed largely on increasing levels
of obesity and stress and environmental factors such as smoking,
pollution and exposure to 'gender-bending' chemicals.
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