Frequent mobile phone use could lead to a reduction of sperm concentration and total sperm county, said a substantial cross-sectional study conducted by the University of Geneva (UNIGE) in collaboration with the Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute (Swiss TPH).
The study, involving 2,886 Swiss men aged 18 to 22, examined their mobile phone habits and semen parameters. Although no link was found between mobile phone use and low sperm motility and morphology, the study underscores the impact of mobile phones on male reproductive health.
DECLINING SEMEN QUALITY
Semen quality has declined over the last five decades, with sperm count decreasing from an average of 99 million sperm per millilitre to 47 million per millilitre. This decrease is attributed to a combination of environmental factors (including radiation), lifestyle habits (such as diet, alcohol, and stress), and other factors like endocrine disruptors and pesticides.
The study collected data from 2,886 men and analyzed their semen parameters. The participants provided details about their mobile phone usage habits, including frequency and where they placed their phones when not in use.
IMPACT OF MOBILE PHONE USE
The research indicated that frequent mobile phone use was associated with lower sperm concentration. Median sperm concentration was significantly higher in men who used their phones infrequently (56.5 million/mL) compared to those who used their phones more than 20 times a day (44.5 million/mL), reflecting a 21% decrease in sperm concentration for frequent users.
SHIFT FROM 2G TO 4G
The inverse association between mobile phone use and sperm concentration was more pronounced in the earlier study period (2005-2007) and gradually decreased over time (2008-2011 and 2012-2018). The trend coincides with the transition from 2G to 4G technology, resulting in reduced transmitting power of phones.
POSITION OF THE PHONE
The study did not find an association between the position of the phone (e.g., in a trouser pocket) and reduced semen parameters. However, the number of participants who did not carry their phones close to their bodies was too small to draw a robust conclusion on this aspect.
LIMITATIONS AND FUTURE RESEARCH
The study relied on self-reported data, which has inherent limitations. To address this, a study funded by the Federal Office for the Environment (FOEN) was initiated in 2023 to accurately measure exposure to electromagnetic waves from mobile phones and assess their impact on male reproductive health. The study aims to uncover the mechanisms behind these observations and understand how mobile phone radiation may affect sperm production and hormonal regulation.
This research highlights the potential impact of frequent mobile phone use on male reproductive health, specifically sperm concentration and total sperm count. Further studies and investigations are needed to delve into the exact mechanisms and implications of this association.