Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Mobile Contraception: 850Mhz GSM Mobile-Phone Radiation Reduces Sperm Vitality, Membrane Integrity and Motility.

Image 1: If you carry your phone in your pocket, you reduce your sperms chances to hit a home run ;-)
I don't know if you actually realized that there is a separate category "sex" in the navigation bar of the SuppVersity. Well, I guess if you have, you will probably have been disappointed when you hit the respective button, because sexually exciting news from the realms of exercise and nutrition science are scarce and even today's blogpost is probably not exactly what you would expect when you read the word "sex" on the Internet. If you come to think about it from the increasingly popular paleolithic point of view, sex is however nothing but a means of reproduction, our ancestors have been practicing... well you know the whole ancestral litany ;-)

2,000,000 infertile couples in the US and the figures keep rising

What I am really driving at, here, is that for way more of your fellow human beings than you may think sex becomes a meticulously planned undertaking in a pairs hitherto futile endeavor to parent a child. According to the most recent figures from the American Pregnancy Association, a total of 2,000,000 married couples are considered "infertile" and the figures keep rising year by year and while infertility can have many reasons, of which stress, bad nutritional habits, diabesity and metabolic syndrome are recurrent topics here at the SuppVersity, the "contraceptive potential" of electromagnetic radiation is largely ignored by the iPhone-addicted American (and European) public. Thusly, I personally found it not very surprising that the most recent scientific evidence for the anti-feritility effect of GSM mobile radation (850Mhz, yes the same your beloved iPhone uses) comes from a study that was conducted by a team of researchers from Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Libya, countries where having more than a single spoiled child is still the norm and not the exception - even among academics.
Image 2: Would you buy underwear from this guy if I told you that he is from the Swiss company Isa Bodywear and sells what he claims is radio-protective slips for 29CHF per piece? No? Even if I told you that the experimental approach from the study at hand was valid?
Update: A brief note on a clever objection regarding the real world significance of this kind of artificial experiment. Darko Zdravińá, argued not without good reason on Facebook, that putting a mobile phone next to some sperm in a dish was not exactly a perfect model for the little buggers in your scrotum; and without question, Darko is right. I had in fact thought about that myself before and dug up an even more recent study that is going to be published in the physics journal Health Physics in January 2012, which deals with the validity of this approach and then simply forgot to mention that in the "original version" of this article. According to Mouradi and his co-workers, who constructed an artificial scrotum to test the "protective" effect the multiple tissue levels under which your sperm usually reside, the model is adequate, but you would have to subtract 0.8-1.2cm from the distance that is used when no absorbing tissue is placed in between the sperm and the EMR emitting device (Mouradi. 2012). That being said ~4cm is still about the mobile to sperm distance you would get when you put your phone right into the pocket and don't forget that your beloved iPhone radiates even more intensely than the Nokia phone used in the study ;-)
For their research, Mohamed A. Dkhil and his colleagues collected semen samples from 20 healthy donors, including only donor specimen, which had sperm parameters within the normal range defined by the WHO. The subsequent separation procedures, which somehow sound like they were events in the SpermOlympics, involved a so-called "swim-up test" (I guess I don't have to tell you what part of the lifecycle of a sperm requires some serious up-ward swimming ;-), by the means of which the "best" swimmers, which would obviously have the greatest chance to inseminate the ovocyte, were selected. 50% of these "performance athletes" were subsequently exposed to the electromagnetic radiation of a Nokia73 GSM phone (SAR 1.46W/kg which is about the same specific absorption rate the independent German computer magazine measured for the iPhone4S with 1.62W/kg in UMTS mode) at 5 cm distance, which is similar to carrying the phone right in the front pocket of your jeans.
Figure 1: Reductions in vitality, membrane integrity and mobility of previously healthy (elite ;-) sperm after 60-min exposure to cell-phone radiation (data adapted from Dkhil. 2011)
If you take a look at the data in figure 1 you will have to realize that 60 min of this "totally benign" type of EMR reduced the number of vital sperm (as measured by eosin test), increased the number of sperm with membrane defects (as measured by HOS test) and reduced their total motality by ~88%. If I do now tell you that all those effects had a statistical significance way below the cut off of p<0.05, I hope that you will probably agree with the scientists assessment that their results provide an experimental validation of previous epidemiologic data from Fejes et al. (2005) Erogul et al. (2006) and others, who have been warning the public for years that "the prolonged use of cell phones may have negative effects on the sperm motility characteristics." (Fejes. 2005).

And by the way, even if your sperm survive the chronic electromagnetic assault, chances are that the chronic stress of being within everybody's reach 24/7 will finish them off. So, regardless of whether you want or do not want to father a child in the near future, I suggest you reconsider whether or not it is really necessary, let alone desirable to be enslaved by an electronic gadget and the people at the other end of the wireless line.