Monday, February 22, 2016

Sperm Killers

The research is in. We now know that men who talk too much on their cell phones or keep their iPhones in a pants pocket have lower sperm counts. If a man is trying to impregnate a woman he does best to cut back on his cell phone usage and to keep his distance from the sperm-killer. 

Somehow or other, the research does emphasize the corollary: cell phones seem to be an effective male contraceptive.

The Daily Mail has the story:

Men who carry their mobile phone in a trouser pocket or talk on it for just an hour a day risk suffering with fertility problems, scientists warn.

Research shows that sperm count can also be reduced by talking on a phone that is charging, or even keeping it close by on a bedside table at night.

The quality of sperm among men in Western countries is steadily decreasing, and is considered the factor in 40 per cent of cases in which couples have difficulty conceiving a child.

Heat and electromagnetic activity which emanate from a mobile phone are thought to be ‘cook’ sperm, causing them to die.

The findings have led to a leading British fertility expert to warn men about the risks of being ‘addicted’ to mobile phones.

And also:

The study revealed that men who chatted on the phone for more than an hour daily were twice as likely to have low sperm quality as those who spoke for less than an hour, while those who talked on the phone as it charged were almost twice as likely to suffer problems.

It also found that 47 per cent of men who kept their phones within 20 inches of their groin had sperm levels that were seriously affected, compared with just 11 per cent of the general population.


Wm Sears said...

I wouldn't put any credence to this story. It contradicts basic physics.

Sam L. said...

Is The Daily Mail a trusted source? Sounds like clickbait to me.

Sam L. said...

I await Ares' take.

Ares Olympus said...

Myself, I've never had a cell phone, so no worries for me.

The Telegraph version of the article has one skeptic:
...Professor Alan Pacey, a fertility research scientist at Sheffield University has scoffed at suggestions that mobile phones could be damaging male fertility and insists he will be carry on putting his mobile in his trouser pocket.

Professor Dirnfeld said: "Dr Pacey might not need to worry about his fertility, but for younger guys it is a worry. If you a trying for a baby and it doesn't happen within a year you might want to think of whether it could be your mobile phone habit that is to blame."

A better study shouldn't just look at correlations, but correction - do sperm quality recover when this expert advice is followed?

I'd also think there are plenty of healthy men not interested in having children, or not soon, who would be willing guinea pigs and agree to keep their phones in their pants pockets and see if sperm quality decrease and then how long it takes to recover them again.

This doesn't sound like rocket science, more like gardening.

priss rules said...

Cell phones fell bones.

Wm Sears said...

The test is easier than that. Do your hands or face or butt get hot when you use or carry the cell phone? No, then the claim of cooking is absurd. Cell phones also do not emit ionizing radiation so nothing there either. This is almost certainly the typical epidemiologist's misuse of statistics. We need W.M. Briggs on the case.

Ignatius Acton Chesterton OCD said...

The Daily Mail is doing better reportage than any American media publication I can think of, save the NYT, WSJ and WaPo... on good days. And even those papers habitually avoid the hard reportage and investigative reporting that reputable U.S. news sources routinely used to do...

Ignatius Acton Chesterton OCD said...

My sense is this will be one of those urban legends: shock findings (marketing) marinated pseudoscience (buzz) that will be evangelized on the 11:00 news (delivery mechanism), until it is finally quashed by data (reality), and perpetuated by Hollywood elites (true believers).

Kind of like anthropomorphic climate change theories...

David Foster said...

Haven't read it, but here's a paper which analyzes this and other claimed health effects of cell phones in considerable detail:

Intuitively, the claim (in the original article) about the fertility risks from phone in pants pocket make a certain amount of sense, given that the effect of distance on RF energy is considerably more than linear...a cube effect, IIRC...but OTOH, if you're not talking on a cell phone it presumably transmits only intermittently (to let the network know where it is)....I guess worst case would be phone in pants pocket while talking on a headset. The claim about the added risk when charging doesn't make much sense to me from a cause-and-effect standpoint.

Sam L. said...

IAC, I don't have any faith in the NYT or WaPo.

Anonymous said...

Sam L. @February 23, 2016 at 4:52 PM:

Me, neither. My point was not to write off all American journalism as yellow. But it is getting there. The UK papers are doing the best reportage on US domestic issues... it's not just limited to international news anymore.


Andrew_M_Garland said...

This is a long debunking which looks respectable to me. This is a representative part.
No, cell phones are not “cooking men’s sperm”
=== ===
[excerpt] Then there was another finding that is basically meaningless. Basically, among men who reported holding their phones =50 cm from the groin, the “rate of abnormal sperm concentration showed a non-significant trend towards a higher value among participants who reported generally keeping their cell phones at a distance =50 cm from the groin compared with those who kept it at a distance >50 cm from the groin (47.1% versus 11.1%). No association was found between any of the factors investigated and between semen volume and progressive motility (data not shown).”

In other words, the authors were really, really, really stretching to eke out a seeming correlation relevant to a link between cell phones radiation and decreased sperm count and male factor infertility. Heck, there wasn’t even a correlation between keeping the phone near one’s testicles and…anything examined! Basically, this study is nonsense, and the authors do a serious song and dance to try to make statistically insignificant findings sound important:
=== ===