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Possible Link Between Cell Phones and Low Sperm Quality

February 7, 2008

A study conducted by researchers at the Cleveland Clinic found that cell phone use could be linked to infertility in men.

Researchers found that, on average, the longer men used their cell phones daily, the lower their sperm count and the greater their percentage of abnormal sperm. The findings were published in the journal Fertility and Sterility.

Some studies in the past have also linked long-term cell phone use to a higher risk of brain tumors, though many other studies have found no such connection, according to Reuters Health.

The concern is that, over time, the electromagnetic energy emitted from mobile phones could theoretically harm body tissue — by damaging DNA, for example.

Researchers said that the results of the study do not necessarily show a direct link between lower sperm count and cell phone use.

“Our results show a strong association of cell phone use with decreased semen quality. However, they do not prove a cause-and- effect relationship,” lead researcher Dr. Ashok Agarwal told Reuters Health.

Agarwal and his colleagues based their findings on semen samples from 361 men who came to their infertility clinic over one year. All of the men were questioned about their cell phone habits.

Men who said they used their phones for more than four hours each day had the lowest average sperm count and the fewest normal, viable sperm.

“We infer from our results that heavy cell phone use … is associated with a lower semen quality,” Agarwal said. But whether cell phones somehow directly affect men’s fertility is not clear.

Agarwal told Reuters Health that he and his colleagues are in the process of conducting two studies in hopes of further scrutinizing the issue.

One test will involve exposing semen samples to electromagnetic radiation from cell phones to see what, if any, effects occur.

The second test is a follow-up to the current study that will look at a larger group of men.

Agarwal said the second study is more rigorously designed and will account for certain other factors like lifestyle habits and occupational exposures that might affect sperm quality.

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