Cell phone usage linked to decline in sperm quality - study

Researchers found that cell phone use is indeed associated with reduced sperm motility, viability, and concentration.

Apple's iPhone 6 (R) and iPhone 6 Plus. (photo credit: REUTERS)
Apple's iPhone 6 (R) and iPhone 6 Plus.
(photo credit: REUTERS)

Cell phones have been instrumental in the globalization of the modern world and are perhaps the representative symbol of the 21st-century so far. As smartphones continue to evolve, they bring people across the world closer – whether they be five minutes or 5,000 miles away. A new study from the University of Pusan, however, warns that not all is well when it comes to expanding cellphone usage – particularly among men.

A Pusan National University of Korea study, which was published in the peer-reviewed journal Environmental Research, found that cellphone usage may reduce sperm quality and viability – a theory that has circulated since the mid-2000’s as more becomes known about ubiquitous cellphone usage.

While known for photo filters and cute emojis, mobile phones also emit radiofrequency electromagnetic waves (RF-EMWs), a low-level RF that can be absorbed by the human body and potentially brings adverse effects on the brain, heart or even reproductive system.

Assistant Professor Yun Hak Kim from Pusan National University led the study. Researchers conducted a meta-analysis on the potential effects of cell phones on sperm quality, screening 435 studies and a total of 4280 samples published between 2012 and 2021 that were suitable for the statistical analyses.

People look at an app on a new iphone in Mexico City  (credit: CARLOS JASSO/REUTERS)People look at an app on a new iphone in Mexico City (credit: CARLOS JASSO/REUTERS)

Through their meta-data analysis, researchers found that cell phone use is indeed associated with reduced sperm motility, viability, and concentration. Interestingly, however, the study did not find a correlation between the amount of cellphone usage and sperm quality – rather, any exposure to RF-EMWs could affect general sperm quality.

“Male cell-phone users should strive to reduce mobile phone use to protect their sperm quality,” warned Kim.

The researcher stressed that more research needs to be done on the topic, however, adding 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.”