Cell Phone Users are Wussies

This has been in the news a bit, but just in case anyone missed it, it’s probably a bad idea to keep that cell phone in your front pants pocket and it’s probably not that great an idea to hang out around a lot of microwaves… (which may also have implications for the use of home wireless networks as well… though that’s a bit speculative.)


Cell Phone Usage Linked To Lower Sperm Count
Article Date: 23 Oct 2006 – 22:00 PDT

I’d heard some talk of this before. On the way back from L.A. it was on the radio again. Decided to do a bit of a Google Train on it. Doing “Cell phone sperm” gives 972,000 hits with a lot of them from 2008 – 2009. But just in case anyone missed it…

The more a man uses his cell phone the lower his sperm count is likely to be, said researchers from Cleveland, New Orleans and Mumbai, at the Annual Meeting of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine. The researchers found that every aspect of a man’s sperm profile can be affected by many hours on his cell phone.

Not to mention his tendency to want to “share” and go clothes shopping ;-)

The researchers looked at the sperm count, motility and normal forms of the sperm of 364 men. They found that:

— among men with a normal sperm count who never used a mobile phone, average sperm counts were 86 million per milliliter, 68% motility and 40% normal sperms

— among men with a normal sperm count who used their mobiles more than four hours per day, average sperm counts were 66 million sperm per milliliter, 46% motility and 21% normal forms

The researchers believe the effect on sperm profiles may be caused by the electromagnetic radiation emitted by the devices, or their heat. They added that further studies are needed to find out exactly what the mechanisms are that undermine sperm quality.

I doubt it’s ‘the heat’ as the device is fairly cool when not transmitting and it’s near the ear when it is… So I’d look to a more direct impact of microwave energy.

FWIW, a high school friend who enlisted in the military during the Vietnam War was assigned to repair radar sets. This was done with the shielding removed some of the time. He eventually got testicular cancer. “Eventually” being in the course of a short first / only enlistment… No family history of “issues” and no identified environmental factors in his home. (i.e. all the rest of us who swam the same canals, ate the same food, and worked on the same cars had no such issues… he was a ‘one off’.) I’ve suspected that exposure to microwaves was “not good” for a couple of decades now…

“Relationship between cell phone use and human fertility: an observational study”
P-398 A. Agarwal, S. A. Prabakaran, G. Ranga, A. T. Sundaram, R. K. Sharma, S. C. Sikka

FWIW, my “count” was measured at significantly above the numbers posted above as “normal”. And folks wonder why I don’t carry my cell phone with me all the time ready to answer it at a moments notice…

So remember: Real Men don’t spend hours on the cell phone…. And if you get voice mail, that just means I’m more virile than if I answered on the first ring ;-)

But they are not the only study to find such issues:


Can Cell Phones Harm Our Health?
(PDF) Can Cell Phones Harm Our Health? November 2010
Diana Zuckerman, PhD, Brandel France de Bravo, MPH, Rachel Lieberman, BA, and Megan Cole, BA
In July 2008, Dr. Ronald Herberman, Director of the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute, made quite a stir in the media when his warning to staff was made public: he told his employees that cell phone radiation may present more of a health risk than we had thought. He advised that rather than wait for definitive studies, we should immediately curb our cell phone use, and especially cell phone use by children.[1]

The extensive use of cell phones is a relatively recent phenomenon, and since cancers usually take at least 10-20 years to develop, it will be years before research is likely to conclude whether cell phones cause cancer or not. However, the evidence indicates cause for concern. In addition to possibly increasing our risk of cancer, new research shows that cell phone radiation (known as Radio Frequency-Electromagnetic Radiation or RF-EMR) may have other negative health effects, including harming sperm, reducing male fertility, harming your quality of sleep, worsening migraines, and even changing the behavior of the cells inside your body.

And if phones can do that, so can all the other devices that use the ‘couple of GHz’ frequencies. Radars and wireless networks come to mind first…

What Does Research Tell Us about Cell Phones and Tumors?

Three years ago, a review of 18 studies of cell phones and brain tumors, published in Occupational and Environmental Medicine by Lennart Hardell and his colleagues, concluded that studies of individuals using cell phones for more than 10 years “give a consistent pattern of an increased risk for acoustic neuroma and glioma,” with the risk being highest for a tumor on the same side of the head that the phone is used.[2] Gliomas are the most common cancerous brain tumor, and the majority of gliomas are malignant (and usually fatal). Acoustic neuromas are benign tumors of the acoustic nerve that can cause deafness. The studies were conducted in the United States, Sweden, Finland, the U.K., Germany, and Japan.

Around the same time, cell phone companies insisted that the evidence shows that their cell phones are safe. Cell phone companies tend to focus on the studies they funded themselves and that draw conclusions that will keep their business booming. A good example is a study by Schuz and colleagues at the Danish Cancer Society and International Epidemiology Institute, but funded by cell phone companies.[3]
only 3% had started using cell phones 15 or more years before the data were analyzed. Therefore, this study did not evaluate people using cell phones for a long enough period to determine if cell phone use causes cancer. Individuals with corporate accounts were excluded from the sample, which is also a shortcoming because they were the early adopters and heaviest users of cell phones.

But Wait, There’s More!

Some folks think it may cause hearing loss, memory loss and more:


Cell phone use could cause substantial damage to the human body beyond brain cancer, an author who has written about cell phone safety said today.

Cell phones could damage users’ DNA, reduce their sperm count, and increase memory loss, said Devra Davis, who authored “Disconnect,” a book on cell phones and cancer.

Davis spoke to a crowd of more than 60 Bay Area residents about the risks of long-term mobile phone exposure today at San Francisco’s Commonwealth Club.

and from that center4research page in the prior block above:

Beyond Brain Tumors: Other Health Concerns
Salivary gland tumors

Dr. Siegal Sadetzki and her colleagues at Tel Aviv University in Israel have found a link between salivary gland tumors and cell phones.[12] They reported that heavy cell phone users were more likely to have benign or malignant tumors of the salivary gland, compared to those who did not use cell phones. These findings became more worrisome when a July 2009 Hebrew University-Hadassah School of Dental Medicine study found a sharp rise in the number of cases of cancer of the parotid salivary gland in recent years. From 1980 to 2002, there were an average of only 25 cases a year in Israel, but that nearly tripled to about 70 cases a year in the subsequent five years.[13]

Migraines and dizziness

A 2009 study linked long-term cell phone use to migraines and dizziness (known as vertigo). In this study of 420,095 Danish adults, when comparing long-term cell phone users with more recent cell phone users, the long-term users were 10-20% more likely to be hospitalized for migraines and vertigo.[14]

Sleep disturbance

A small 2007 study found that exposure to cell phone radiation before bed led to less sleep and poorer quality of sleep. People who were exposed to 884 MHz wireless signals for three hours before bed took six more minutes to reach deep sleep and spent eight fewer minutes in the deepest stage of sleep, in comparison to when they were not exposed to the cell phone signals.[15] These few minutes per day could contribute to sleep deprivation over several weeks and months.

Altered cell behavior

Exposure to cell phone radiation is now thought to alter the expression of certain proteins in the human body. In a 2008 Finnish study, females exposed to cell phone radiation that mimicked a one-hour phone call had significant changes in their levels of two different proteins after they were exposed: “one protein increased by 89%, the other decreased by 32%.”[16] This was the first study showing the molecular-level changes that take place in the human body, when exposed to cell phone radiation.

Altered sperm count and quality
Similarly, in a 2009 study, Dr. John Aitken from the University of Newcastle in Australia found that as levels of cell phone radiation increase, the damage done to sperm also increases.[19] Dr. Aitken therefore recommends that men who would like to have children should avoid carrying cell phones in their pockets or anywhere below the waist. This is a dramatic development because the level of radiation for a phone that is in a pocket while not being used is much lower than the level of radiation during a phone conversation.

Risks for Children

A study published in 2008 in Physics in Medicine and Biology revealed that the brains of children under 8 absorb twice as much radiation from cell phones as adult brains.[20] A 2010 study published in Physics in Medicine and Biology noted that, “in general and on average, children suffer a higher exposure of their brain regions than adults.” This is because children have proportionally smaller heads and brains, yet receive the same levels of cell phone radiation as adults.[21]
A study of more than 13,000 Danish children published in Epidemiology suggests that cell phone exposure could affect children’s behavior.[24] The children in the study who were hyperactive or had emotional or behavioral problems, including trouble getting along with other kids, were much more likely to have mothers who used cell phones during pregnancy. The children’s problems, as reported by their mothers, were even more pronounced for children whose mothers used cell phones both during pregnancy and during their children’s first seven years of life. After accounting for other factors that could affect behavior, the children of these mothers were 80% more likely to have behavioral problems than children whose mothers rarely or didn’t use cell phones.

Other than that, No Problem…

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About E.M.Smith

A technical managerial sort interested in things from Stonehenge to computer science. My present "hot buttons' are the mythology of Climate Change and ancient metrology; but things change...
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23 Responses to Cell Phone Users are Wussies

  1. Big Al says:

    So I have a defibrillator implanted in my chest that communicates with the internet by way of a Bluetooth connection. Every mooring at 2 AM it connects with a communicator device and uploads data for the day. I don’t know how long this takes, but it may be no coincidence that I often wake up at 2 AM.
    So does this mean I’m toast? I mean I got the transmitter inside of me. It’s not very powerful, they say the range is 6 feet but it is transmitting RF!

  2. Tom Bakewell says:

    A long time ago I hung around with several immunology grad students. One was doing a thesis on the near field effects of long term exposure to AC power lines. In the discussion I seem to recall mention of a study done on radio amateurs and causes of their death. A significant number had contracted some sort of brain tumors. Remember, the sample population is made of pre WWII hams who became active in the days of little if any RF shielding (pre TV.) Also most of the transmitting equipment in use then was home made so there was significant exposure to the fumes from the solder used in the construction. I’ve not followed up on this in any way. However, I was reminded of it my a friend who says her cell phone makes her ear gets warm when she uses it.

    I do use a cell phone, but I have 68 total hours usage, 32 hours recieved and 36 dialled over a two year period. Not exactly a chatty Kathy here.

  3. H.R. says:

    @Tom Bakewell

    I’m a “monk vowed to silence” by comparison to you. I average about 100 minutes a year talk time on my cell phone and my voice mail message says “Feel lucky? Leave a message.” I usually don’t check voice mail messages more than 2-3 times per year. :o)

    My father attended a demonstration of a microwave stove in the 50’s. There’s a reason microwave stoves never caught on ;o)

  4. co2fan says:

    The older celphone systems had much more power than the present ones. So those studies comparing 10-15 year users vs recent ones ignore that fact, which is a major flaw, invalidating the results.


  5. kuhnkat says:

    Don’t call me!!

  6. Sera says:

    Gave up my Motorola 3000 back in ’93, and have been cell phone free since. I sometimes wonder how we even grew up back in the sixties and seventies. Kids nowadays…

  7. Malaga View says:

    it’s probably a bad idea to keep that cell phone in your front pants pocket and it’s probably not that great an idea to hang out around a lot of microwaves…

    Sensible advice…
    But not always easy (especially in the city) when there are so many cell stations hidden away up on the roof.

    I would add my own pet advice:

    Do not breath in the fumes when you are filling / gassing up your car in the petrol station…. I always turn my head into the wind when filling up… although it does make it very difficult to see the digits on the pump :-)

    Petrol fumes give rats road rage
    Cairo University researcher Amal Kinawy exposed three groups of rats to either clean air, vapour from leaded petrol or vapour from unleaded petrol.

    Dissection of the rats showed that those exposed to petrol had big fluctuations in a key group of neurotransmitters – chemicals used for exchanging messages between neurons – in three areas of the brain.

    In addition, rats exposed to unleaded petrol showed indications of neurological change.

    Their brain cells looked like they had been damaged by rogue molecules called free radicals.

    Just as striking was that the rats exposed to either kind of fuel were more aggressive, spending more time in belligerent postures and carrying out more attacks, compared to the clean-air group.


    So we need to stay away from microwaves, petrol fumes and vehicle exhausts… mmmmmmm…. that’s easy [NOT!]

  8. Malaga View says:

    Not to mention his tendency to want to “share” and go clothes shopping ;-)

    Many a true word said in jest… times have changed… males are now expected to be touchy – feely… they no longer look for male magazines on the top shelf… instead they buy lifestyle magazines that are stacked up next to the latest edition of Cosmo. Western society seems to have morphed into a fashion conscious Barbie and Ken world promoted by the Main Stream Media.

    But modern life does have its contradictions… on the one hand we find: modern Barbie women want an easygoing Ken as a partner because they are easy to live with… but on the other hand: modern Barbie women do not want to mate with an easygoing Ken who keeps his mobile phone in his purse and doesn’t want to get his hair messed up :-) :-) :-)

  9. Sandy Rham says:

    Surely air traffic controllers on aircraft carriers must be getting life-time cell-phone doses every week?
    Navy hiding issues here?

  10. Malaga View says:

    John Doe: How do I adopt a healthier lifestyle?

    Doctor: First things is to cut down on alcohol.
    John Doe: OK… no more drinking.
    Doctor: Second thing is to get plenty of sleep.
    John Doe: OK… no more late nights.
    Doctor: Third thing is to have a balanced diet.
    John Doe: OK… no more junk and fast-foods.
    Doctor: Fourth thing is to take more exercise.
    John Doe: OK… no more driving.
    Doctor: Lastly throw away your mobile phone.
    John Doe: OK… no more microwaves.
    Doctor: That’s it! A healthy lifestyle.

    John Doe: And will I live to be 100 years old?
    Doctor: NO – but it will seem like it!

  11. PhilJourdan says:

    The study is indicative of the sad state of scientific research. The test has so many flaws in it, it is worthless. Indeed, a valid test would have checked the total life styles AND history of the subjects. In other words, instead of putting the cart in front of the horse, perhaps the horse goes in front. As in, perhaps men with low sperm counts, etc. have a propensity to talk on the cell phone more?

    I am like several of the posters in that I rarely talk on the cell phone. More often than not, the call will bounce to voice mail and I will decide whether to call the person back (half the time it is either a wrong number or a spam caller).

    I think Schwartzenegger had a term for men who like to talk on the phone a lot – girly men! He probably had more scientific basis for his judgement than the study in question.

  12. Mike Patrick says:

    And to think, I wasted all that money on a vasectomy.

  13. What about CME´s or GCR´s? which, we do not see though, from time to time it affects our cellular phones- when we hear a kind of hit sound and it turns off.
    For sure we humans cannot survive more than 80 to 100 years of GCR radiation (coincident with Gleissberg Cycle).
    So keep on worrying about nano sources of radiation while really being bombarded from above, and we feel it while ageing.

  14. E.M.Smith says:

    co2fan: The older celphone systems had much more power than the present ones. So those studies comparing 10-15 year users vs recent ones ignore that fact, which is a major flaw, invalidating the results.

    It doesn’t invalidate the results. It does mean you must look a bit more closely at the dates.

    The original analog system ( 1G ) was 4 Watts. It started in 1979-80 era. By 1982 GSM was promulgated ( and the .4 Watt or 400 milliwatt phones with it).

    By 1992 it was pretty rare to be on an Analog system anywhere and by 2000 I was not able to get my older (CDMA with Analog Sony handheld) phone activated on Verizon.

    So at this point we’re over 25 years from the start of the 2G low power phones (pushing 30 years) and we’re over 15 years (and pushing 20) from the time of limitations on Analog being enforced.

    So, basically, any folks with a ’20 year lag’ to get a tumor will have already had that 20 years expire since exposure to Analog signals….

    But wait, there’s more…

    Don’t forget our old friend “inverse square law”….

    In about 1988? or so I had an Analog phone. As it did suck down 4 Watts, it was big. So big it was built into my car. The antenna was outside the car and poked up above the roofline at the rear window.

    In about 1993? 4? I had a CDMA phone ( and due to a client having particular requirments, for a while I carried a GSM phone too… and a TDMA for a while… and…) These phones had the “pull up antenna” and placed the end of the antenna (where a significant part of the radiation happens) about 4 inches from the ear. My present phone has a ‘stub’ that puts it about 1/2 inch from the ear / skull.

    So let’s look at that inverse square…

    Compared to a 1 inch antenna distance, that 4 inch antenna is 1/(4*4) or 1/16 the delivered power density. The 1/2 inch is (1 / (0.5 x 0.5 ) or 1 / (1/4) or 4 times as much. From the 4 inch to the 1/2 inch spacing we take 16 * 4 = 64 times as much power density.

    EVEN if the ‘pull up antenna’ were running at 4 Watts on an analog node (that mine did about once per year on the drive across the Mojave near the middle…) we have that inverse square taking a bite. So take 400 mW to 4 W, that’s 10 times the power. Now you get to down rate it by 1/16 in the case of the “pull up antenna” and enhance it by 4 in the case of the stubby. A 1 : 64 overall ratio. So you would have about 10/64 the power at the skin surface near the ear. Even if this is off by a factor of 6, you still are only at parity. What the Watts giveth, the inverse square law taketh away.

    An inverse square is a hard thing to beat…

    So the “bottom line” to me is that the studies are not invalid, but it would be a good thing to look at the particular dates and an even better thing to know exactly what kinds of phones were in use.

    The bigger issue, from my point of view, is that there are at least 3 major frequency bands in use ranging over a couple of GHz. There is a very real possibility that only some subset ‘has issues’. So is it the (roughly) 900 Mhz or the 1.9 GHz or ???? I’d expect the difference between the (lower) analog frequencies vs the (higher) digital frequencies to be more important than the received power levels (given the 1/R^2 issues).


    Natural radiation “has issues” too, but a CME doesn’t hit you every day for 5 hours…

    @Malaga View:

    I like it!

    FWIW, I once heard the story of a guy in the 1800s? who noticed that it seemed to take forever for time to pass when bored silly. In order to extend his ‘percieved lifetime’ he spent as much of the rest of his days as possible in church listening to sermons… Talk about “unclear on the concept”!

    But it did SEEM like forever… (in misery…)

    BTW, per gasoine fumes: Yeah, it’s not good for you. But at least now you know why NASCAR fans are the way they are ;-) “Look, another Left Turn!!!”

    A key question left unanswered is just how much fumes? A tiny bit does about nothing. Living in the stuff at ‘high’ levels for weeks? Yeah, that will rot your brain. It’s called “glue sniffing”… (Toluene in glue was a common gasoline component until they decided to make less benzene ring content due to the tendency for it to cause cancer…)

    @Sandy Rham:

    See the above discussion of Inverse Square and look where antenna are located (and shielding located). I’d also expect fighter pilots to ‘have issues’ but don’t know where their antenna shielding is located. They also tend to not fly 5 hours a day for 20 years….

    Between inverse square and antenna location issues, along with potential variation by frequency involved, along with the need for a 10 year+ exposure; I could see significant variation by type of source and occupation.

    (I could also see “issues” like folks who want to spend hours on the phone ‘sharing’ already being a self selected group… so I’m not hard core committed to a causality thesis, but given the observation of enzyme systems changes and results found in multiple studies, it’s pretty clear that SOMETHING happens… what and how much does need better determination).

    @Big Al:

    Given that it takes 10-15 years and that bluetooth is way lower power, I’d probably not be too worried… Frankly, if I make it another 15 years, I’ll be surprised. Happy, but surprised… So I’m not putting my cell phone away either… though I may move it to my back pocket ;-)


    There are several (many?) studies. I’ve watched this for years without getting excited about it (for many of the reasons you mentioned). For me, the two “biggies” in this round are the “side of head” correlation and the “vertigo and deafness”. A family member has sporadic vertigo, had a benign auditory nerve turmor at one point, and is having hearing loss. Also likes to call me a lot on the cell phone…

    That the ‘issues’ tend to cluster on the side of the head with the cell phone is, er, interesting….

    OK, with that said:

    Yes, it would be good to have looked at things like “Are you a TV Repair Man” and “Do you eat rat poison regularly” or “Do you live near the airport?”. BUT it is still valid to take a fairly random sample of folks and look for broad evidence of something happening. THEN you do the followups to nail it.

    For me, I’ve “let this be” for some added time to pass, for exactly that reason. What caught my eye this time was the multiple studies, finding similar things, AND the particular finding of measurable changes in proteins (enzymes?). That speaks to mechanism. I didn’t highlight it above, but in case you missed it, I’ve put the passage in question here:

    Exposure to cell phone radiation is now thought to alter the expression of certain proteins in the human body. In a 2008 Finnish study, females exposed to cell phone radiation that mimicked a one-hour phone call had significant changes in their levels of two different proteins after they were exposed: “one protein increased by 89%, the other decreased by 32%.”[16] This was the first study showing the molecular-level changes that take place in the human body, when exposed to cell phone radiation.

    At that point you don’t have “lifestyle” issues. You have the same people in before / after measured changes directly from exposure.

    At that point, it’s worth a “heads up”.

    There is no question that the radio energy CAN and DOES change biological systems. The question has shifted to “how much” and “what outcomes”…

    In that context, the other studies that show a (sloppy?) correlation gain some merit as “worry points” and it’s reasonable to move the cell phone out of the pants pocket and into the backpack.

    And maybe move my wireless access point node / box from 1 foot in front of me to 8 feet away at the end of the ethernet cable…

    Not paranoia, but reasonable precautionary actions.

  15. Pascvaks says:

    Sounds a lot like the issue of cigerettes and cancer from way back in the Dark Ages.

  16. PhilJourdan says:

    Pascavaks on 9 February 2011 at 10:07 am

    Sounds a lot like the issue of cigerettes and cancer from way back in the Dark Ages.

    Or a cyclamates and cancer issue from the same ages.

  17. Bruce of Newcastle says:

    Here is a health issue which came up yesterday:

    “Unfortunately, he was watching his phone instead of where he was walking and went over the rail…[of]…the seventh floor of the car park.”

    Texting can be hazardous to your health.

    Us bicycle riders also have learned to be ultracautious when we see a pedestrian with that ‘hunched shoulders’ look.

  18. Jerry says:

    So Margaret Sanger invented the cell phone! Wow, who knew. :) Wonder if she did police radar also.

  19. Jeff Alberts says:

    Not to mention his tendency to want to “share” and go clothes shopping ;-)

    And to actually buy a copy of Steel Magnolias.

  20. About radiation and free energy, see this jewel:

    Click to access tesla_patent.pdf

  21. E.M.Smith says:

    Um, I looked at it the last times you posted it…

    Yes, Tesla developed a prototype solar cell and a device to capture free electrons.

    Now if you can just make it efficient enough to not cost $100 / kW-hr you’ll have something….

    It’s rather like his sending power through the air. Yes, you can light up a 40 W fluorescent tube 100 feet away. Too bad it takes about 10,000 W of power to do so… I’ll take the wires, please…

    So yes, we are surrounded by “free” energy. More than we could ever use. Wind, waves, sun, heat, nuclear decay, burning wood, coal, oil.

    Did I say “wood, coal, oil”? Yes, I did. You see it is free just laying on or in the ground. All you have to do is collect it and use it…

    “Ay, now there’s the rub”.

    All that “FREE!” evaporates as soon as someone needs to do something to make it a usable form and deliver it where desired. At that point you enter the world of engineering and discover “TANSTAAFL!” There Ain’t No Such Thing As A Free Lunch!.

    FWIW, I use that Tesla method of pulling ‘free energy’ out of the air just about every day. It pulls a few microwatts out of the air for free. Then spends a fair degree of effort upgrading it to enough power to drive the speaker of my radio…

    And that’s the problem with most of the “FREE ENERGY!!!” patents, ideas, etc. from all ages and all times. They forget that all energy is free, until you have to use it for something.

    So when you have a working device that delivers about 10 kW of AC or DC power and does so for under $0.20 / kW-hr then you have something. Until then, you have a chunk of black rock laying in the ground that will burn if you put enough fire on it… and that’s pretty mundane…

  22. @E.M.Smith:
    Some nanotechnology needed. The smaller the particles the higher its energy.

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