|Diagram representing various sources of RF EMF exposure effect on brain and testicular organ and deleterious outcomes (Kesari, Agarwal & Henkel, 2018)|
Pusan National University scientists reveal links between sperm quality and cell phone use
The findings of their updated meta-analysis hint at the potential dangers of modern electronic gadgets
Cell phones have succeeded in bringing the world closer, making life tolerable during a very trying time. But cellphones also have their downsides. They can have negative effects on health. This is because cell phones emit radiofrequency electromagnetic waves (RF-EMWs), which are absorbed by the body. According to a meta-analysis from 2011, data from previous studies indicate that RF-EMWs emitted by cell phones degrade sperm quality by reducing their motility, viability, and concentration. However, this meta-analysis had a few limitations, as it had low amounts of in vivo data and considered cell phone models that are now outdated.
In an effort to bring more up-to-date results to the table, a team of researchers led by Assistant Professor Yun Hak Kim from Pusan National University, Korea, conducted a new meta-analysis on the potential effects of cell phones on sperm quality. They screened 435 studies and records published between 2012 and 2021 and found 18—covering a total of 4280 samples—that were suitable for the statistical analyses. Their paper was made available online on July 30, 2021 and was published in Volume 202 of Environmental Research in November, 2021.
Overall, the results indicate that cell phone use is indeed associated with reduced sperm motility, viability, and concentration. These findings are more refined than those from the previous meta-analysis thanks to a better subgroup analysis of the data. Another important aspect that the researchers looked into was if higher exposure time to cell phones was correlated to lower sperm quality. However, they found out that the decrease in sperm quality was not significantly related to exposure time—just to exposure to mobile phones itself. Considering the results were consistent across both in vivo and in vitro (cultured sperm) data, Dr. Kim warns that “Male cell-phone users should strive to reduce mobile phone use to protect their sperm quality.”
Knowing that the number of cell phone
users is most likely going to increase in the future, it’s high time we
start considering exposure to RF-EMW as one of the underlying factors
causing a reduction in sperm quality among the male population.
Moreover, seeing how technologies evolve so quickly, Dr. Kim remarks
that “additional studies will be needed to determine the effect of
exposure to EMWs emitted from new mobile phone models in the present
digital environment.” The bottom line is, if you’re worried about
your fertility (and potentially other aspects of your health), it may be
a good idea to limit your daily cell phone use.
Effects of mobile phone usage on sperm quality – No time-dependent relationship on usage: A systematic review and updated meta-analysis
Sungjoon Kim, Donghyun Han, Jiwoo Ryu, Kihun Kim, Yun Hak Kim. Effects of mobile phone usage on sperm quality – No time-dependent relationship on usage: A systematic review and updated meta-analysis. Environmental Research. 202:111784, 2021. doi:10.1016/j.envres.2021.111784.
Background Mobile phones emit radiofrequency (RF) electromagnetic waves (EMWs), a low-level RF that can be absorbed by the human body and exert potential adverse effects on the brain, heart, endocrine system, and reproductive function. Owing to the novel findings of numerous studies published since 2012 regarding the effect of mobile phone use on sperm quality, we conducted a systematic review and updated meta-analysis to determine whether the exposure to RF-EMWs affects human sperm quality.
Methods This study was conducted in accordance with the PRISMA guidelines. The outcome measures depicting sperm quality were motility, viability, and concentration, which are the most frequently used parameters in clinical settings to assess fertility.
Results We evaluated 18 studies that included 4280 samples. Exposure to mobile phones is associated with reduced sperm motility, viability, and concentration. The decrease in sperm quality after RF-EMW exposure was not significant, even when the mobile phone usage increased. This finding was consistent across experimental in vitro and observational in vivo studies.
Discussion Accumulated data from in vivo studies show that mobile phone usage is harmful to sperm quality. Additional studies are needed to determine the effect of the exposure to EMWs from new mobile phone models used in the present digital environment.
"... 18 studies fulfilled all inclusion criteria and were included in the meta-analysis (Table 1 and Fig. 1) (Agarwal et al., 2008, 2009; Ahmad and Baig, 2011; Al-Bayyari, 2017b; De Iuliis et al., 2009; Ding et al., 2018a; Dkhil et al., 2011; Erogul et al., 2006; Falzone et al., 2008; Fejes et al., 2005; Kaya et al., 2020; Malini, 2017b; Rago et al., 2013; Sajeda and Al-Watter, 2011; Veerachari and Vasan, 2012; Wdowiak et al., 2018; Yildirim et al., 2015; Zalata et al., 2015). Nine studies from a previous meta-analysis and nine new studies that included 4280 samples were used for analysis. One conference paper included in the previous study was excluded. The sperm quality parameters established in each paper varied and were subjected to a meta-analysis; 16 papers provided data on sperm motility, 6 provided data on sperm viability, and 12 provided data on sperm concentration. All in vitro studies were experimental, whereas all in vivo studies were observational. We identified the MD values of the entire 4280 samples and analyzed the MD values of each group after classifying them according to four criteria: control group setting (non-exposure vs. less exposure), study design (in vivo and in vitro), participant group (fertility clinic and population), and storage location (trousers or not)."
"Mobile phone use decreased the overall sperm quality by affecting the motility, viability, and concentration. It was further reduced in the group with high mobile phone usage. In particular, the decrease was remarkable in in vivo studies with stronger clinical significance in subgroup analysis. Therefore, long-term cell phone use is a factor that must be considered as a cause of sperm quality reduction. Additional studies are needed to determine the effect of the exposure to EMWs emitted from new mobile phone models in the present digital environment."
Romualdo Sciorio, Luca Tramontano, Sandro C Esteves. Effects of mobile phone radiofrequency radiation on sperm quality. Zygote. 2021 Aug 13;1-10. doi: 10.1017/S096719942100037X
In the last decades, the universal use of mobile phones has contributed to radiofrequency electromagnetic radiation environmental pollution. The steady growth in mobile phone usage has raised concerns about the effects of phone radiation on male reproductive health. Epidemiological studies report a sharp decline in sperm counts in developing countries, and worldwide with c. 14% of couples having difficulties to conceive, many of which are attributed to a male infertility factor. Environment and lifestyle factors are known to contribute to male infertility. Exposure to heat, radiation, or radioactivity might induce damage to biological tissue organs, including the testis. Given the ubiquitous use of mobile phones, the potential adverse effects of the resulting environmental radiation needs to be elucidated further. It seems to be an apparent relationship between the increased exposure to mobile phone radiofrequency and sperm quality decline, but the evidence is not conclusive. Our review summarizes the evidence concerning the possible adverse effects of cell phone radiation on the male reproductive system, with a focus on sperm quality. Also, we critically analyze the effects of elevated testicular temperature and oxidative stress on male fertility and how these factors could interfere with the physiological activities of the testis.
Future perspectives and conclusions
The rapid technological advances in personal computers and communication devices might pose a risk for human health. Cell phone devices emit radiofrequency electromagnetic waves that seem to affect male reproductive health and other body functions (McClelland 3rd and Jaboin, 2018; Sage and Burgio, 2018; Wall et al., 2019). Although the current data are not unequivocal, it seems sound to speculate that mobile phone exposure might be contributing to subfertility. However, the existing evidence primarily relates to adverse effects on sperm motility and morphology, which are limited endpoints for evaluating the male fertility potential.
The exact mechanisms of how RF-EMR might affect the testis, epididymis, and sperm have not yet been fully understood. Additional studies are warranted, particularly prospective studies assessing sperm functional markers, such as sperm DNA integrity and OS, in fertile and subfertile men. Equally important will be to analyze whether the decreased sperm quality associated with mobile phone exposure translates into impaired pregnancy chances. The effects of short-term and long-term exposure and energy intensity should be also investigated in more detail, taking into account relevant confounders. Only then will scientific societies and regulatory bodies be able to provide users with transparent information concerning the risks and guidance for proper use.
Human population in today's world lives surrounded by radiofrequency fields (RF) and electromagnetic radiation (EM) fields, transmitting almost all forms of electronic communication and data that humans produce every second. Mobile devices and laptop computers are EMR-emitting devices. The effect of mobile phone emitted radiation and heat on fertility is the subject of recent interest and investigations. Many studies have found a decrease in semen quality which has increased the focus on male reproductive health. Infertility affects approximately 15% of couples of reproductive age, and nearly half of these cases are linked to male fertility (Sharlip et al., 2002). Different harmful environmental influences have led to changes in semen analysis standards by reducing the lower limits of normal ranges, which were declared by the World Health Organization (2010). The possible negative impact of mobile phone radiation on sperm quality has been well established. While no certain conclusions can be drawn from current evidence, a growing number of studies indicate a decrease in male fertility associated with increased cellular phone usage (Agarwal et al., 2011) and laptop computers using Wi-Fi (Avendaño et al., 2012a). Here we review the current evidence regarding the effects of electromagnetic radiation and heat in male fertility.
Yahyazadeh A, Deniz OG, Kaplan AA, Altun G, Yurt KK, Davis D. The genomic effects of cell phone exposure on the reproductive system. Environ Res. 2018 Nov;167:684-693. doi: 10.1016/j.envres.2018.05.017.
Humans are exposed to increasing levels of electromagnetic fields (EMF) at various frequencies as technology advances. In this context, improving understanding of the biological effects of EMF remains an important, high priority issue. Although a number of studies in this issue and elsewhere have focused on the mechanisms of the oxidative stress caused by EMF, the precise understanding of the processes involved remains to be elucidated. Due to unclear results among the studies, the issue of EMF exposure in the literature should be evaluated at the genomic level on the reproductive system. Based on this requirement, a detail review of recently published studies is necessary. The main objectives of this study are to show differences between negative and positive effect of EMF on the reproductive system of animal and human. Extensive review of literature has been made based on well known data bases like Web of Science, PubMed, MEDLINE, Google Scholar, Science Direct, Scopus. This paper reviews the current literature and is intended to contribute to a better understanding of the genotoxic effects of EMF emitted from mobile phones and wireless systems on the human reproductive system, especially on fertility. The current literature reveals that mobile phones can affect cellular functions via non-thermal effects. Although the cellular targets of global system for mobile communications (GSM)-modulated EMF are associated with the cell membrane, the subject is still controversial. Studies regarding the genotoxic effects of EMF have generally focused on DNA damage. Possible mechanisms are related to ROS formation due to oxidative stress. EMF increases ROS production by enhancing the activity of nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NADH) oxidase in the cell membrane. Further detailed studies are needed to elucidate DNA damage mechanisms and apoptotic pathways during oogenesis and spermatogenesis in germ cells exposed to EMF.
This paper reviews the current literature and is intended to contribute to a better understanding of the genotoxic effects of EMF emitted from mobile phones and wireless systems on the human reproductive system, especially on fertility. The current literature reveals that mobile phones can affect cellular functions via non-thermal effects (Diem et al., 2005; Hanci et al., 2013 ; Odaci et al., 2016a). Although the cellular targets of GSM-modulated EMF are associated with the cell membrane, the subject is still controversial (Eberhardt et al., 2008). Studies regarding the genotoxic effects of EMF have generally focused on DNA damage (Mortelmans and Rupa, 2004; Young, 2002; Zeiger, 2004; Panagopoulos, 2012 ; Turedi et al., 2016). Possible mechanisms are related to ROS formation due to oxidative stress (Moustafa et al., 2004; Hanukoglu et al., 2006). EMF increases ROS production by enhancing the activity of NADH oxidase in the cell membrane (Friedman et al., 2007b). In this context, EMF affected spermatozoa may have a high degree rate of infertilization. It seems that previous genomic studies do not show definitive evidence regarding EMF affected cells in the fertilization. Although we evaluated broadly the genomic effects of cell phone exposure on the reproductive system using both animal and human studies, one of the weaknesses of this work is insufficient review of human studies. This may come from limited number of EMF based human studies in the literature. Further detailed studies are needed to elucidate DNA damage mechanisms and apoptotic pathways during oogenesis and spermatogenesis in germ cells that are exposed to EMF.
• Oxidative stress based EMF exposure modulates nitric oxide level in the germ cells.
• Oxidative stress based EMF exposure inhibits antioxidant mechanisms in the germ cells.
With current advances in technology, a number of epidemiological and experimental studies have reported a broad range of adverse effects of electromagnetic fields (EMF) on human health. Multiple cellular mechanisms have been proposed as direct causes or contributors to these biological effects. EMF-induced alterations in cellular levels can activate voltage-gated calcium channels and lead to the formation of free radicals, protein misfolding and DNA damage. Because rapidly dividing germ cells go through meiosis and mitosis, they are more sensitive to EMF in contrast to other slower-growing cell types. In this review, possible mechanistic pathways of the effects of EMF exposure on fertilization, oogenesis and spermatogenesis are discussed. In addition, the present review also evaluates metabolomic effects of GSM-modulated EMFs on the male and female reproductive systems in recent human and animal studies. In this context, experimental and epidemiological studies which examine the impact of mobile phone radiation on the processes of oogenesis and spermatogenesis are examined in line with current approaches.
EMF emitted by mobile phones has a number of well-documented adverse metabolomic effects on the male and female reproductive systems and can lead to infertility by increasing ROS production and reducing GSH and other antioxidants. The primary target of the EMF emitted by mobile phones may be the cell membrane (Pall in press, this volume). This then results in accelerated activity of membrane NADH oxidase and, consequently, greater rates of ROS formation that cannot be easily conjugated or detoxified. Although many studies have reported morphological and functional deteriorations in testis and ovary following EMF exposures, as well both structural and functional deficits in reproductive health, the underlying mechanisms have not been fully elucidated. To assist in further clarification of these processes and mechanisms, Table 1 summarizes key studies on the metabolomic effects of EMF on reproductive systems. Future studies will benefit greatly from standardized exposure protocols and evaluations of key metabolomic indicators.
Sepehrimanesh, M. & Davis, D.L. Proteomic impacts of electromagnetic fields on the male reproductive system. Comp Clin Pathol. 26(2):309-313. 2017. doi:10.1007/s00580-016-2342-x.
As among the most rapidly proliferating human cells, spermatogenesis and associated activities offer an important endpoint for evaluation. More than 60 different compounds or industrial processes have been identified as increasing defects in human sperm or testicular tissue and possibly increasing the risk to offspring from male-mediated exposures. In this study, we reviewed structural and functional proteomic changes related to EMF exposure. Reported changes are categorized based on main affected tissue and also the most important adverse effects. Overall, these results demonstrate significant effects of radio frequency-modulated EMF exposure on the proteome, including both structural and functional impacts such as a decrease in the diameter and weight of the seminiferous tubules and the mean height of the germinal epithelium (Ozguner et al. 2005) and/or pathological and physiological changes in key biochemical components of the testicular tissues (Luo et al. 2013). These structural and functional changes may account for the pathological impact of EMF on the male reproductive system reported in the experimental work that we and others have conducted. While EMF is currently being used for a number of therapeutic applications (REF), the work we have reviewed here clearly indicates a range of harmful effects, especially on genital systems.
Houston B, Nixon B, King BV, De Iuliis G, Aitken RJ. The effects of radiofrequency electromagnetic radiation on sperm function. Reproduction. 2016 Dec;152(6):R263-R276.
Mobile phone usage has become an integral part of our lives. However, the effects of the radiofrequency electromagnetic radiation (RF-EMR) emitted by these devices on biological systems and specifically the reproductive systems are currently under active debate. A fundamental hindrance to the current debate is that there is no clear mechanism of how such non-ionising radiation influences biological systems. Therefore, we explored the documented impacts of RF-EMR on the male reproductive system and considered any common observations that could provide insights on a potential mechanism.
Adams JA, Galloway TS, Mondal D, Esteves SC, Mathews F. Effect of mobile telephones on sperm quality: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Environ Int. 2014 Sep;70:106-12. doi: 10.1016/j.envint.2014.04.015.
Ten studies were examined including 1,492 human sperm samples. Exposure to mobile phones was found to be associated with a significant eight per cent average reduction in sperm motility and a significant nine per cent average reduction in sperm viability. The effects on sperm concentration were more equivocal. The results were consistent across experimental laboratory studies and correlational observational studies.
Liu K, Li Y, Zhang G, Liu J, Cao J, Ao L, Zhang S. Association between mobile phone use and semen quality: a systemic review and meta-analysis. Andrology. 2014 Jul;2(4):491-501.
Possible hazardous health effects of radiofrequency electromagnetic radiations emitted from mobile phone on the reproductive system have raised public concern in recent years. This systemic review and meta-analysis was prepared following standard procedures of the Cochrane Collaboration and the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses statement and checklist. Relevant studies published up to May 2013 were identified from five major international and Chinese literature databases: Medline/PubMed, EMBASE, CNKI, the VIP database and the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials in the Cochrane Library. Eighteen studies with 3947 men and 186 rats were included in the systemic review, of which 12 studies (four human studies, four in vitro studies and four animal studies) with 1533 men and 97 rats were used in the meta-analyses. Systemic review showed that results of most of the human studies and in vitro laboratory studies indicated mobile phone use or radiofrequency exposure had negative effects on the various semen parameters studied. However, meta-analysis indicated that mobile phone use had no adverse effects on semen parameters in human studies. In the in vitro studies, meta-analysis indicated that radiofrequency radiation had detrimental effect on sperm motility and viability in vitro [pooled mean difference (MDs) (95% CI): -4.11 (-8.08, -0.13), -3.82 (-7.00, -0.65) for sperm motility and viability respectively]. As for animal studies, radiofrequency exposure had harmful effects on sperm concentration and motility [pooled MDs (95% CI): -8.75 (-17.37, -0.12), -17.72 (-32.79, -2.65) for sperm concentration and motility respectively]. Evidence from current studies suggests potential harmful effects of mobile phone use on semen parameters. A further multicentred and standardized study is needed to assess the risk of mobile phone use on the reproductive system.
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