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Mobile use increases risk of infertility in men

A recent research proposes that radiations from handsets may affect fertility in men as heavy users of mobile have markedly lower sperm count than normal.//

A study conducted on 361 infertility patients in the U.S. showed that with the increase in the daily mobile use by the man, there was a decrease in both the quantity and quality of his sperm. There was a 40% reduction in sperm count in men who used mobile for over 4 hours in a day when compared to those who never used a mobile at all. Less frequent use of mobile showed less reduction in the count.

The study carried out by Ashok Agarwal of the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio and his team found that sperm production is obstructed by the electromagnetic fields generated by mobile phone handsets.

Earlier studies in laboratory scale have shown that close and heavy exposure to this type of radiation harms sperms. However, this had not been proved in human so far.

"On the face of it, the findings seem pretty robust, but I can only assume that mobile phone use is some kind of surrogate for something else," said Allan Pacey, a senior lecturer in andrology at the University of Sheffield.

"If you are holding it up to your head to speak a lot, it makes no sense it is having a direct 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."

Dr Agarwal, who presented the results today at the American Society for Reproductive Medicine conference in New Orleans, said, "They are worrying because of the huge extent of mobile phone use.

"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," he said. "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."

The study included 361 men, whose sperms were analysed before the fertility treatment. Based on their mobile use, they were divided into 4 groups: those who never used a phone, those who used one for less than two hours, two to four hours, and more than four hours a day.

Median sperm counts were measured at 85.89 million per millilitre for the fist group, 69.03 for the second group, 58.87 for the third and 50.30 for the fourth.

There was a decrease in the sperm motility, or swimming ability with increasing phone use.

"The main finding was that on all four parameters - sperm count, motility, viability and morphology - there were significant differences between the groups," Dr Agarwal said. "The greater the use of cell phones the greater the decrease in these four parameters. That was very clear and very significant."

Dr Agarwal said: "If the effect is genuinely caused by mobiles, several explanations are possible. Animal work has shown that electromagnetic fields can damage Leydig cells in the testes and mobiles are also known to cause a heating effect on tissue that might be hazardous to sperm. Both phenomena occur over short distances, so holding a phone at a distance from the crotch while speaking should not be dangerous. "

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