Men who talk on their cell phone for more than an hour a day double the risk of impairing their sperm count, according to a new Israeli study.
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In addition, the study has found that sperm levels of 47 percent of men who simply kept their phones in their pocket during the day were negatively affected. Speaking while charging the phone or sleeping next to it can also damage men’s sperm.
Sperm quality is steadily declining in Western countries
Male sperm quality, which is steadily declining in Western countries, accounts for 40 percent of infertility problems among couples. Accumulated research knowledge on this subject shows that sperm quality is affected by congenital genetic factors, but also by environmental variables. One of them is the growing use of cell phones.
According to the Technion, “many studies on the question of the connection between sperm quality and the radiation emitted by cell phones reached different and non-uniform conclusions, since they were carried out under different conditions (laboratory experiments on tissue, experiments in laboratory animals, etc.) and did not always address all the relevant variables.” But the new study “addressed a wide range of variables related to cell phone usage habits and sperm quality according to the parameters set by the World Health Organization (WHO) in 2010.”
Take your phone out of your pocket
The 106 men surveyed by the researchers were undergoing fertility evaluation at the hospital. The participants filled out detailed questionnaires that included questions on medical conditions that may affect sperm quality, but also questions about their cell phone usage: How much time the user spends on the phone each day, where he carries the phone, whether he makes or receives calls in areas with poor reception and while charging his phone, and so on.
The study results indicate clear causal connections, according to the Technion: Talking on a cell phone for over an hour a day, and talking on the phone when it is connected to a charger, double (from 33.3 percent to 66.7 percent) the likelihood of a decrease in sperm concentration. Sperm concentration also decreased to an abnormal level in men who carried the phone at a distance of less than 50 cm from the groin; an abnormal concentration was found in 47.1 percent of them, compared with just 11.1 percent in the total male population.
“In light of the research findings, it is certainly recommended to shorten the duration of calls, not to carry the phone near the groin, not to sleep next to it, not to talk while it is being charged (in fact, it is better to turn it off while it is being charged) and to use a headset or hands-free kit whenever possible,” Dr. Ariel Silberlicht of Carmel Medical Center said in a statement.
The study was carried out as part of the doctoral work of Dr. Yulia Sheinfeld from the Technion Faculty of Medicine, under the guidance of Clinical Associate Professor Martha Dirnfeld, Director of the Fertility and IVF unit at Carmel Medical Center and a Clinical Associate Professor at the Technion.
Photos: Tim Parkinson