A new study by an Indian-American scientist, partly based on research conducted in Mumbai, has suggested that men who use mobile phones for over four hours a day could damage their fertility.
According to Prof Ashok Agarwal of the Cleveland Clinic Foundation, the effect of mobiles on sperm parameters could be due to the electromagnetic radiation the devices emit or the heat they generate. Dr Agarwal was speaking at the American Society for Reproductive Medicine’s annual meeting in New Orleans on Monday.
The study tracked 364 men attending fertility clinics in Mumbai, Cleveland and New Orleans between September 2004 and October 2005.
The average sperm count among men who did not use mobiles was 86 million per millilitre (mL), as compared with 76 million/mL for men who used mobile phones for less than two hours a day and 71 million/mL for those who used them two to four hours a day.
The lowest average sperm count of 66 million/mL was noticed among men who used mobiles more than four hours a day, observed the team headed by Dr Agarwal.
On all four parameters — sperm count, motility, viability (whether the sperm are alive or not) and morphology (the shape and size) —there were significant differences between the four groups. The greater the use of mobiles, the greater was the decrease in the four parameters. That was something very clear and significant, the team noted.
Even so, Agarwal opted for caution. “This is still very preliminary and I would not want these findings misinterpreted as showing that mobile use is a definite cause of decreased fertility. There are still many unanswered questions,” the WebMD Medical News quoted him as saying.
A top Mumbai doctor also called for more research on the subject. “This seems unlikely as there is no direct connection between the two. Also, there has to be more information as to when the samples were taken and whether the sperm count was properly carried out,” said Mumbai-based sexologist Dr Prakash Kothari.