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Is that a cell phone in your pocket?

There's been plenty of hearty debate between cell phone proponents and critics about potential cancer risks.  After one study claimed cell phones had more detrimental health effects than smoking, a major cancer doctor came forward stating that there was strong upcoming evidence of a cell phone-cancer link, the first time a head of a major academic cancer research institution had suggested such a possibility.

Now another new study has been released citing a decidedly different hazard of cell phone use.  The new study shows that cell phones are no friends of testes, the male reproductive organs in which sperm is made.  In the upcoming study, it was shown that when in close range to the testes and in talk mode, cell phones damage sperm.

The new study is alarming because of two key problems.  First, damaged sperm can lead to birth defects and higher incidences of various disabilities, as seen among the children of older fathers.  Second, the scenario tested in the study is a common one.  Males who chat using hands free headsets often leave their phones resting in their pockets, in perfect range to cause the testes harm.

Ashok Agarwal, who led the study and is the Director of the Center for Reproductive Medicine at the Cleveland Clinic, states, "We believe that these devices are used because we consider them very safe, but it could cause harmful effects due to the proximity of the phones and the exposure that they are causing to the gonads."

The study consisted of semen samples taken from 32 men, which exhibit similar sperm health.  The samples were kept at constant temperature and other similar conditions, while being split into a control group and a test group.  The test group was placed for an hour within 2.5 cm of a cell phone in talk mode, at 850 MHz, perhaps the most common frequency.

The transmissions led to an apparent increase in oxidative stress, with free radicals and oxidants being created at a higher rate and antioxidants being broken down.  Agarwal says this stress equates to damaged sperm.  Other factors which can cause it include environmental pollutants or infections in the urinary genital tract, he adds.

While the study does not trump up the cancer link, there may be a relation to testicular cancer as well.  Says Agarwal, "On average, there was an 85 percent increase in the amount of free radicals for all the subjects in the study. Free radicals have been linked to a variety of diseases in humans including cancer."

Though the study raises some red flags -- due to its very controlled nature -- one key component was left out and remains to be tested say its creators.  There is additional protection against various environmental hazards afforded by the body's skin, bone and tissue.  In order to develop a more accurate picture, the effects on sperm or other cells, when passing through such layers would have to be examined. 

As to why the cell phones seem to crank up oxidative stress is unclear.  Agarwall theorizes, "Perhaps the cell phone radiation is able to affect the gonads through a thermal effect thereby increasing the temperature of the testes and causing damaging effects in the sperm cell."

A previous study from his team had shown that men who use their cell phones more than 4 hours a day have significantly lower sperm counts.  The previous study had 361 subjects.  It offers compelling supporting evidence as it provided evidence that even with tissue protection damage may be occurring.  This, backed with the evidence from the more carefully controlled experimental study, which offers a possible mechanism for the damage, paint a worrisome picture.

Joe Farren, a spokesman for the CTIA was among the cell phone industry leaders who declined to criticize the studies, but argued, "The weight of the published scientific evidence, in addition to the opinion of global health organizations, shows that there is no link between wireless usage and adverse health effects."

But he even added, "We support good science and always have.  It's important to look at studies that are peer-reviewed and published in leading journals and to listen to the experts."

Perhaps part of why they are hesitant to criticize Agarwall's work is that he is being so careful in his statements about its conclusions.  He advises men not to feel compelled to move their cell phones from their pockets just yet, explaining, "Our study has not provided proof that you should stop putting cell phones in your pocket. There are many things that need to be proven before we get to that stage."

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Careful with the 'nads.
By akugami on 9/22/2008 12:56:18 AM , Rating: 5
Don't talk with your penis. You heard it here first folks.

RE: Careful with the 'nads.
By LittleJimi on 9/22/2008 5:44:23 AM , Rating: 5
Yeah - don't use your "dictaphone".

RE: Careful with the 'nads.
By dajeepster on 9/22/2008 10:23:28 AM , Rating: 5
How am I suppose to have "phone sex" now ?!??!

RE: Careful with the 'nads.
By DM0407 on 9/23/2008 4:43:34 PM , Rating: 2
Isn't this how most super heroes get their powers? Some sort of radiation exposure?

If you want super seamen then buy a clam shell style phone and use it to cup your balls like the palm of a young prostitute.

You'll be rifling down women with super spud in no time!

I expect this post to be removed in 5....4... 3....

RE: Careful with the 'nads.
By JonnyDough on 9/24/08, Rating: 0
RE: Careful with the 'nads.
By JonnyDough on 9/24/2008 7:52:45 AM , Rating: 2
Why not? It has a mind of it's own and fills me in on what we did while I was passed out drunk at your mom's house. It's actually quite entertaining and educational to talk to. :-P

By Joz on 9/22/08, Rating: 0
By Omega215D on 9/22/2008 2:26:49 AM , Rating: 5
As long as you masturbate regularly to clean out stale sperm so to speak.

By feraltoad on 9/22/2008 4:17:25 AM , Rating: 5
Thank you, Sir. This Wikipedia article has changed my life.

For starters, I got fired at the office today, but who cares!!!

By encryptkeeper on 9/22/2008 2:04:04 PM , Rating: 2
The test group was placed for an hour within 2.5 cm of a cell phone in talk mode, at 850 MHz, perhaps the most common frequency.

I guess it's a good thing I stopped using the vibration function on my phone to stimulate myself when I masturbate.

By idconstruct on 9/23/2008 7:33:51 AM , Rating: 2
at least I wasn't the only one to see that lol

my pocket is at least 10cm away from that area... which means a substantial (exponential actually) drop in radiation, not to mention the flesh also in the way

By Proteusza on 9/22/2008 3:24:25 AM , Rating: 2
Well you might end up with a brain tumour then. Welcome to the Modern Age.

Front pocket?
By Thalyn on 9/22/2008 5:24:34 AM , Rating: 2
They used the measurement of 2.5 centimeters to mimic the distance between the trouser pocket and the testes.

Now, I'm no telephony or anatomy expert, but a test conducted from 2.5cm (approximately 1 inch) seems somewhat of a wasted effort to me, since I don't make a habit of storing my mobile in my Ys - I keep it in my pocket, or maybe on a belt clip. These are normally on the far side of my leg, or even higher up on my waist. Though maybe these boffins know of a secret, front pocket that I don't.

Let's assume that my thigh is 20cm (8") across, which is a fairly resonable guess. That means I'll be keeping my phone at least 8 times further away than what they tested, meaning it should (theoretically) receive just 1/64th (1.5625%) of the radiation. What's the effect of just 1/64th of the incoming radiation over the same timespan?

And that's without considering that my leg is a hulking mass of bone, blood, muscle, sinew and fat, all wrapped up in skin. And that my testes also have a few layers of skin around them and some blood of their own. Will the radiation even penetrate enough of that to have 1/640th of its original intensity by the time it could do damage?

Fearmongering is becoming all too popular of a past-time these days...

RE: Front pocket?
By Master Kenobi on 9/22/2008 8:09:59 AM , Rating: 3
Too true. The chance of this effecting those of us who use belt clips is pretty much zero.

RE: Front pocket?
By Oregonian2 on 9/22/2008 2:25:50 PM , Rating: 2
Also not stated was the power level. The output power of a cell phone is varied up and down by the cell tower it's connected to -- it's varied to the lowest power that'll still work (not for your gonads, it makes the cell tower happier too).

RE: Front pocket?
By Cunthor666 on 9/22/2008 10:53:35 PM , Rating: 4
"The chance of this effecting those of us who use belt clips..."

This might not lower your sperm count, but it will definitely lessen your chances with the opposite sex.

RE: Front pocket?
By bhieb on 9/22/2008 9:52:24 AM , Rating: 1
Not too mention.

The test group was placed for an hour within 2.5 cm of a cell phone in talk mode , at 850 MHz, perhaps the most common frequency.

I don't normally have someone "talking" on the phone and inch from my testes. Well unless the wife gets a call she just has to answer.

RE: Front pocket?
By tmouse on 9/23/2008 9:22:42 AM , Rating: 2
Well if a person kept a phone IN the front pocket of their pants, the antenna could be well within an inch. Obviously if you have it on a belt clip it will not have an effect. I doubt cloth would have any real protective effect certainly less that the glass or plastic separating the sperm from the phones in the studies. The material would be enclosed to prevent the growth of bacteria, not to mention the nasty factor of sperm/phone contact (although they could have used disposable phones).

Reads Article....
By quiksilvr on 9/22/2008 1:05:55 AM , Rating: 5
RE: Reads Article....
By fictisiousname on 9/22/2008 12:01:46 PM , Rating: 2
is that because you're

"Faster than a speeding bullet,
More powerful than a locomotive,
or able to leap tall buildings in a single bound?"

RE: Reads Article....
By amanojaku on 9/22/2008 12:21:01 PM , Rating: 2
Girls might love him because he's more powerful than a locomotive and able to leap tall buildings, but they'll think twice about that faster than a speeding bullet problem.

RE: Reads Article....
By quiksilvr on 9/22/2008 4:03:48 PM , Rating: 2
PETER: Hey, what are you doing here?

SUPERMAN: I killed a hooker. She made a crack about me being faster than a speeding bullet so I ripped her in half like a phone book.

RE: Reads Article....
By DjiSaSie on 9/25/2008 6:07:21 AM , Rating: 2
I'd love that but before I make a purchase, I'd like to know whether is there a condom that have been made from the same material as well?

So many questions...
By winterspan on 9/22/2008 1:46:01 AM , Rating: 4
My first thought while reading this was what could be the possible mechanism. The researcher mentioned thermal increase could be a possibility... Well it seems easy to check. Does increasing the temperature of in vitro sperm by a few degrees cause the same oxidative stress??

if it's not related to heat, I have to assume there have been dozens of studies showing the effects of microwave wavelength radiation to human tissue. What are the results? Does ~700-2400mhz radiation cause oxidative stress in human tissue? At what power output? What is the mechanism? I though all EM radiation below the level of Ultraviolet CAN'T cause ionization??? Wouldn't an increase of free radicals (aka unpaired electrons) be indicative of radiation having an ionizing effect??

Any physicists in the room? :)

RE: So many questions...
By anotherdude on 9/22/2008 8:03:49 AM , Rating: 2
I'm no expert but I do remember reading that temperature was important for sperm development and that this was the reason the testicles were hanging outside the body. YMMV

RE: So many questions...
By DASQ on 9/22/2008 6:21:20 PM , Rating: 3
And why your scrotum acts as an elevator for your testicles. Too hot = sag downwards.
Too cold = Pull 'em in.

RE: So many questions...
By rudolphna on 9/22/2008 11:53:32 PM , Rating: 2 LAWL

RE: So many questions...
By JediJeb on 9/22/2008 2:10:02 PM , Rating: 2
Well not sure if you can call it "ionizing" or not but radio energy is used to produce plasma which is argon gas with electrons removed so that could be called ionized in a sense. You can also use radio waves to weld steel, so if enough power is there, damage could occur. Microwaves are a little shorter in wavelength so wonder what the effect might be?

And people called me crazy
By CRimer76 on 9/22/2008 9:17:38 AM , Rating: 5
This is why I keep my junk covered in aluminum foil.

RE: And people called me crazy
By Etsp on 9/22/2008 12:53:14 PM , Rating: 5
So you can bake it like a potato?

Cheap birth control
By ChoadNamath on 9/22/2008 1:40:29 AM , Rating: 2
I don't currently use a bluetooth headset very often, but seeing as I don't want children anytime soon, I just might start.

RE: Cheap birth control
By feraltoad on 9/22/2008 4:12:05 AM , Rating: 3
"Honey, I found a new way to burn off those roll-over minutes! Roll over."

Well, I learnt something
By FaceMaster on 9/22/2008 5:26:54 AM , Rating: 5
testes, the male reproductive organs in which sperm is made.

Ahh, so that's what they're for...

By jrbloch on 9/22/2008 6:35:34 AM , Rating: 4
I suppose this will discourage people from talking out of their ass now.

Someone had to say it.

Hans(free) use
By kryle on 9/22/2008 1:14:29 AM , Rating: 2
You're Breaking My Balls Hans! You're Breaking My Balls!

By jrbloch on 9/22/2008 6:35:01 AM , Rating: 2
I suppose this will discourage people from talking out of their ass now.

Someone had to say it.

By Don Tonino on 9/22/2008 8:05:31 AM , Rating: 2
This could give mean a revolution for the Darwin awards... winners could actually claim the prize now!

By StevoLincolnite on 9/22/2008 11:57:56 AM , Rating: 2
Ahhh nuts....

By Orbs on 9/22/2008 1:03:09 PM , Rating: 2
It would be interesting to know if data transfer is as harmful as active voice communication. With so many devices doing data sync passively, that's a lot of potentially harmful radiation happening even while not talking.

By NARC4457 on 9/22/2008 1:17:13 PM , Rating: 2 (NSFW)

Adds a whole new meaning to gonads and strife.


By fuser197 on 9/22/2008 2:16:54 PM , Rating: 2
The title for this story's hilarious!

Perhaps people should get a life?
By Beenthere on 9/22/08, Rating: -1
A new low for DT
By Lord 666 on 9/22/08, Rating: -1
RE: A new low for DT
By Spivonious on 9/22/2008 9:41:56 AM , Rating: 2
Gonads is a general term for testicles/ovaries.

RE: A new low for DT
By Lord 666 on 9/22/2008 9:49:27 AM , Rating: 2
Not in medical terms, but in slang. The simple use of "testicles" instead would have been more accurate and professional.

Although medically the gonad term can refer to either male gonads (testicles) or female gonads (ovaries), the vernacular, or slang, use of "gonads" (or "nads") usually only refers to the testicles.

RE: A new low for DT
By Spivonious on 9/22/2008 10:10:54 AM , Rating: 2
Although medically the gonad term can refer to either male gonads (testicles) or female gonads (ovaries)...

Sounds medical to me, plus we learned that term way back in 8th grade health class. I do agree though, since the study only concerned males, testicle should have been used.

RE: A new low for DT
By amanojaku on 9/22/2008 12:18:20 PM , Rating: 2
Jason Mick's use of the word "gonad" was acceptable and professional, if not entirely accurate. It's like using the word "human" (e.g. check out that human's ho-ho's!) when you are referring to a woman. The evidence is in your quote; the term can be used medically or as slang, typically with the word shortened.

There's been a little research into the effect on women, although it's much less severe what with ovum being hardier than spermatozoa. As a result, it's accurate to say that cell phone radiation (less successfully) attacks female gonads and their gametes, as well.

RE: A new low for DT
By Lord 666 on 9/22/2008 12:56:07 PM , Rating: 2
As a result, it's accurate to say that cell phone radiation (less successfully) attacks female gonads and their gametes, as well.

The original article makes no mention of women reproductive system and cell phone raditation. You would be really talking out of your ass by making those ASSumptions.

RE: A new low for DT
By amanojaku on 9/22/2008 1:07:18 PM , Rating: 2
Someone needs to put a goat on your bridge, little troll... But you probably prefer sheep.

RE: A new low for DT
By Lord 666 on 9/22/2008 6:06:18 PM , Rating: 1
Definitely not trolling. Even in his own write up, he used "no friends of testes" which would have been a more appropriate title.

However, Mick took DT to a new low this morning by using the word gonads to grab attention.

RE: A new low for DT
By mindless1 on 9/24/2008 8:54:52 PM , Rating: 2
Definitely trolling.

Further, since when is gonads used to grab attention where testicles wouldn't?

RE: A new low for DT
By foolsgambit11 on 9/22/2008 1:14:44 PM , Rating: 2
Well, yes and no. It wouldn't be accurate to say that in the headline without having evidence of it in the body of the article. So for that, Jason could have been more specific. In fact, the research says nothing about the male gonads, either. It researched cell phones' effects on sperm within samples of ejaculate, not their effect on male gonads (the site of sperm production). So the title, to be accurate and specific, should have been, "New Study Shows At Least Some Cell Phone Radiation No Friend To Ejaculate". But I think that's being a bit nit-picky. After all, headlines need to be succinct.

While I agree that gonads is an acceptable medical term, the title was obviously intended to be somewhat humorous. And that doesn't bother me one bit. The two purposes of a headline is to grab your attention and let you know what you will be reading about, after all.

If the OP was offended, the problem is obviously that he or she is a gonad.

RE: A new low for DT
By Cr0nJ0b on 9/22/2008 11:45:30 AM , Rating: 2
...and you had no issue with the picture of the hotdog guy?

RE: A new low for DT
By Lord 666 on 9/22/2008 12:12:49 PM , Rating: 2
Any picture from Something about Mary and the frank and beans would have been better actually. The hot guy doesn't make sense since, per the article is not being studied, and the focus is the testicles.

Something along these lines

RE: A new low for DT
By bldckstark on 9/26/2008 12:46:55 PM , Rating: 2
The hot dog guy is in relation to the cell phone commercials where the parent had to get a second job to pay the family cell bill. It is related to the article in two ways. It is a hot dog, often associated with male reproductive organs, and it was featured in a television cell phone commercial.

Still not a great choice though.

Bad news for
By FITCamaro on 9/22/08, Rating: -1
"This is from the It's a science website." -- Rush Limbaugh
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