There’s growing concern over the potential adverse health effects of long-term exposure to electromagnetic radiation from cell phones. Should you be concerned?
If you’re reading this, chances are good you own a cell phone. In fact, it’s probably in your pocket right now, or at least within easy reach. You might even be reading this article on your smart phone.
Twenty years ago, cell phones were still somewhat of a novelty, mildly cumbersome, and were most decidedly “dumb,” with screens just large enough to display a phone number. Now, 90% of American adults own a cell phone, and well over half have a smart phone. 1
The question is, what effect — if any — does this have on our health?
In this article, I’ll look at the two most well-researched health conditions associated with cell phone use: male infertility and brain cancer.Can cell phones cause infertility?
Several epidemiological studies have found an association between cell phone use and male infertility and decreased sperm quality. For example, a study published in 2008 found that of 361 men attending an infertility clinic, participants who used a cell phone more frequently had lower sperm count, motility, and viability, and had more sperm with abnormal structure. 2
Two other studies also found a higher percentage of abnormal sperm in men who used a cell phone. 3 , 4
Animal experiments have also been conducted to better determine whether a cause-and-effect relationship exists, and what the mechanism might be. Studies where rodents were exposed to cell phone radiation have found decreased sperm motility and abnormal structure, as well as increased DNA damage and oxidative stress. 5
For example, rats exposed to an active cell phone for just 1 hour/day for 4 weeks exhibited reduced sperm motility and increased oxidative stress compared to controls who were exposed to a cell phone without batteries for the same period of time. 6
On the other hand, a different experiment found that young rats actually exhibited better sperm motility and structure following exposure to cell phone radiation, which is opposite of what other studies have found. 7
It’s also important to note that animal research doesn’t generalize to humans particularly well in this case. Due to differences in structure of the testes, the doses of radiation used likely have a much larger effect on the animals than it would on humans.
Researchers have also conducted experiments on human semen samples by exposing half of a given sample to cell phone radiation, and keeping the other half as a control. Exposed samples had higher levels of oxidation, as well as decreased sperm motility and viability. 8 , 9
Several thorough reviews and a couple meta-analyses have been conducted over the past decade to summarize the research on cell phones and reproductive health. 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16
In general, the authors come to the same conclusion: that a significant amount of evidence does indicate that cell phone radiation could be harmful to male reproductive health, but that the study designs are inconsistent, often not reproducible, and don’t always adequately control for confounding variables. That said, there’s enough concerning preliminary evidence to warrant caution and further investigation.
It is interesting that the research on whether cell phones cause reproductive health dysfunctions has been focused on male reproductive health — which admittedly it is easier to monitor sperm than eggs. Regardless, I am concerned for both women and men who carry their cell phone(s) in their pants pocket or on their waist. I also have justifiable concerns on whether cell phones impact other organs and glands — including your vital endocrine system, your nervous system, your lymph system, heart/cardiovascular system, ….
For both prevention and self-help therapy, I strongly encourage you to get a copy of my book: Fighting Radiation & Chemical Pollutants With Foods, Herbs, & Vitamins — Documented Natural Remedies That Boost Immunity & Detoxify. It was a best-seller for 12.5 years and contains much more natural remedies, and primary research documenting their effectiveness and safety — all in a reader friendly presentation. Also, since 1988, I donate half (50%) of my author’s royalties to national non-profit groups working for a healthier environment.
Credit for part of the above information is given, with thanks and appreciation, to Chris Kresser.