Poor cell phones. Having been blamed for everything from plane crashes to malfunctioning hospital equipment and exploding gas stations, it is a surprise that people still use them. Of special interest to the Oncofertility Consortium, cell phones have also been held responsible for causing cancer and infertility in men! So we are here to separate fact from fiction about your mobile device.
Cancer. Mobile phones give off electromagnetic radiation in the same range as microwaves. While some people believe that such low-intensity waves induce DNA mutations, there is no consistent evidence that cell phones cause cancer. Because most people hold their cell phones to their heads (I can’t with my new iPhone but that is a different story) special interest is given to the relationship between cancer and mobile devices. A recent study from the National Cancer Institute looked at brain cancer rates from 1977, before widespread cell phone use, to 2006. In addition to not seeing an increase in brain cancers as cell use became popular in the mid-1990s, the group actually noticed that brain cancers were either unchanged or decreased between 1992 and 2006!
The information about male infertility and cell phones is a little more complicated than the cancer myth. Some studies do find differences in sperm movement and speed between cell phone users and non-users. However, the most significant findings in these studies compared people who don’t use cell phones to those who use cell phones for more than 4 hours per day. In addition, some studies suggest that carrying cell phones in a hip pocket or on a belt while using a hands-free headset may have a greater effect on sperm quality. It is important to note that most studies looking at this relationship examined relatively few people and further investigation is needed. In the meantime, it is probably wise to restrict your cell phone use to a reasonable amount of time. Who talks for 4 hours a day anyway?