By Dr. Mercola
Four in 10 US homes are cell-phone only, meaning they've ditched their landlines entirely.1 This is twice the rate in 2009, and a sign of just how integrated cell-phone use is in our culture.
Among certain demographics, the reliance on cell phones as the only household phone is even higher. For instance, more than 65 percent of adults aged 25-29 live in households with only cell phones, along with nearly 60 percent of 30- to 34-year-olds.
The convenience comes at a price, however, especially if you're planning to have children, or already have them.
Cell Phones Worsen Sperm Quality
A systematic review and meta-analysis looked into the impact of low-level electromagnetic radiation (EMR) – the type emitted by cell phones – on sperm quality, both in the lab and among male patients at fertility clinics.
Their analysis of 10 such studies showed that exposure to EMR from cell phones lowered sperm motility by 8 percent and sperm viability by 9 percent.2 Previous studies have also found that cell phone radiation can affect men's sperm count, and the quality and motility of their sperm. One such study, published in PLOS One found:3
"RF-EMR in both the power density and frequency range of mobile phones enhances mitochondrial reactive oxygen species generation by human spermatozoa, decreasing the motility and vitality of these cells while stimulating DNA base adduct formation and, ultimately DNA fragmentation.
These findings have clear implications for the safety of extensive mobile phone use by males of reproductive age, potentially affecting both their fertility and the health and wellbeing of their offspring."
During the 2013 discussion "Cell Phones & Wi-Fi – Are Children, Fetuses and Fertility at Risk?," leading experts from top universities further reported:4
"There is a direct relationship between duration of cell phone use and sperm count decline. Sperm count is reduced by half in men who carry cell phones in their pants pockets for four hours per day. The motility of the sperm is also impaired.
The testicular barrier, that protects sperm, is the most sensitive of tissues in the body, and is 100x more absorbent. Besides sperm count and function, the mitochondrial DNA of sperm are damaged 3x more if exposed to cell phone radiation.
…DNA mutations have been linked more to damage on the male side in research from Iceland, the assumption being that male sperm is more vulnerable than female eggs, which are more protected. Mutations increase with the age of the father, and more autism and schizophrenia increase with the age of the father."
The data suggest men who plan to father children, in particular, may want to reconsider carrying their cell phones on their belts or in their pocket, in close proximity to their reproductive organs. In addition, both men and women have a number of other sensitive organs in that general area, including your liver, kidneys, colon, and bladder—all of which are susceptible to radiation.
Expert Environmental Health Researchers Warns of Wireless Radiation and Cancer Connection
Dr. Devra Davis, one of the most well-respected and credentialed researchers on the dangers of cell phones, and founder and president of Environmental Health Trust, warned at the Cancer Association of South Africa (CANSA) meeting that Wi-Fi use might cause cancer.
In particular, Dr. Davis warned about the risks to pregnant women and their unborn children, noting that prenatal animal studies have shown exposure to radiation from cell phones:
- Altered DNA
- Altered brain metabolism
- Compromised spinal cords
- Affected learning abilities
Children's brains contain more liquid than adults', which impacts the amount of radiation absorbed (children absorb far more). Among teens who use cell phones from a young age, the risk of brain cancer is about four to five times higher than that of teens who didn't use cellphones.
Dr. Davis also warned about the increased cancer risks to those who live near cell towers, and even the potential dangers of having Wi-Fi in schools. She said:
"We should not rely on proof in a form of death or a disease before taking action… we should rather look at evidence that shows the risks. We now have strong evidence that shows wireless radiation is a possible carcinogen, if not a definite carcinogen.
…A number of well-designed studies indicate that cellphone use increases cancer risk. Cellphones change the brain. Antennas for cellphones are continually searching for signals to send and receive information. The body or brain absorbs about half the radiation emitted from the phone at any time."
Dr. Davis compared the radiation from cell phones to the radiation from a microwave oven, noting that power level is the only difference. That being said, it's not an issue of heating per se.
Non-Thermal Biological Health Effects of Cell Phones Exposed
The SAR ("Specific Absorption Rate") value is a measure of the maximum tested power of the cell phone and its potential for heating tissues. The SAR rating itself is nothing new. In fact, the SAR values of phones have been available for some time, typically listed in fine print somewhere in your owner's manual, on the manufacturer's website, and in the FCC's databases.
But the SAR level only measures the power density of a phone, estimating the radiation penetration into the head using a plexiglass head of a simulated 200-pound man. This is just an estimate, and it is only an estimate of one of the components of risk from cell phones – the heat.
It does not gauge the risk from the frequencies of the cell phone, the erratic pulsing and modulation of the signals, or the magnetic fields from batteries, which is sorely needed, since it's now apparent that cell phones and Wi-Fi trigger changes even without heating tissues.
According to Martin Pall, professor emeritus of biochemistry and basic medical sciences at Washington State University, more than 20,000 publications in the scientific literature show significant biological effects at exposures well within safety standards, including about 4,000 that discuss non-thermal effects.5
Unfortunately, both US and international safety standards are based only on the notion that low-frequency electromagnetic radiation and microwave radiation induce harm by heating.
Dr. Pall found, however, that 23 studies have shown that microwave and other low-frequency EMFs act by activating voltage-gated calcium channels (VGCCs)6 with "most biological effects being due to elevated intracellular calcium, consequent nitric oxide (NO) elevation, and either peroxynitrite or NO signaling." He reported on a "whole serious of biological changes" that may be produced by microwave exposures via VGCC activation, including:
✓ Oxidative stress
✓ Single and double-stranded breaks in cellular DNA
✓ Blood-brain barrier breakdown
✓ Greatly depressed melatonin levels and sleep disruption
✓ Male and female infertility
✓ Immune dysfunction
✓ Neurological dysfunction
✓ Cardiac dysfunction
Impaired Fertility Is Only the Tip of the Iceberg
What experts in the area of the biological effects of electromagnetic frequencies and wireless technologies are finding is that there's virtually no doubt that cell phones and related gadgets are capable of causing not only cancer but also contributing to a wide variety of other conditions, from depression and diabetes to heart irregularities and impaired fertility. Researchers have now identified numerous mechanisms of harm, which explain how electromagnetic fields impact your cells and damage your DNA.
One such expert is Dr. Martin Blank, PhD, one of the most experienced researchers of the cellular and molecular effects of electromagnetic fields in the US. He gave an informative speech at the Commonwealth Club of California program, "The Health Effects of Electromagnetic Fields," co-sponsored by ElectromagneticHealth.org. In it, he explained why your DNA, with its "coil of coils" structure, is especially vulnerable to electromagnetic fields of all kinds. As described in the International Journal of Radiation Biology, April 2011, DNA possesses the two structural characteristics of fractal antennas: electronic conduction, and self-symmetry.7
These properties contribute to greater reactivity of DNA to electromagnetic fields than other tissues, making the long-term consequences of repeated microwave exposures to our genetic material of great concern. Dr. Blank is adamant when he says that there is evidence of harm, and that the harm can be significant. He also points out that the science showing harmful effects has been peer-reviewed, published, and that the results have been replicated, evaluated and "judged by scientists capable of judging it."
An analysis of the range of known mechanisms of action, including DNA effects, was published in November 2010 in "Non-Thermal Effects and Mechanisms of Interaction Between Electromagnetic Fields and Living Matter."8 Furthermore, the mobile industry's own research in the 13-country Interphone study showed a 40 percent increased risk of brain cancer from 1,640 or more hours of cell phone use,9 and independent Swedish research published in 2007 showed a 540 percent increased risk of brain cancer from greater than 2,000 hours of cell phone use.10
Get Your Cell Phone Out of Your Pocket – And Other Smart Cell Phone Tips
Around the world, many countries are already adopting the Precautionary Principle regarding cell phone use. Russian officials have issued the recommendation that all children under the age of 18 should avoid using cell phones entirely. The UK, Israel, Belgium, Germany, India, France, and Finland also urge citizens to err on the side of caution with respect to their children's use of cell phones. Cell phone dangers will one day likely be as well-known as tobacco dangers, but there's going to be a window when people are extremely vulnerable.
And that window is right now. Children are especially vulnerable to damage from cell phone radiation and should not use them at all (or only for very limited amounts). Men and women who want to have healthy children need to take special precautions to protect their reproductive organs and should not keep phones in their front pockets or close to their abdomens. In the US, public warnings are not yet commonplace, but it's still important to protect yourself – and your children. There is plenty of science showing harm to warrant taking action now, and here's how:11
- Children should not play with radiating cell phones. Young children should not use cell phones except in an emergency. While you can put the phone in "airplane mode," which disconnects it from Wi-Fi and the Internet, the cell phone still emits magnetic fields from the battery, which have also been shown to have equally important biological consequences. In no cases should children sleep with cell phones, and extreme caution is advised for pregnant women or women hoping to conceive due to the profound long-term impact of environmental factors.
- Limit or eliminate Wi-Fi exposures. If you have a Wi-Fi router, make sure your router is a low-power version, not in a high-use area and keep it turned off as much as possible. Consider putting it on a timer so it is only available during certain hours, and never during sleeping hours.
- Schools should not have Wi-Fi. Cabled/wired connections do not pose the same risks. If there is Wi-Fi, again, it should be limited to the time when the Wi-Fi is specifically needed and not be operating at other times. Ideally, classrooms, school libraries, and gyms should be Wi-Fi-free.
- Resume using landline phones whenever possible. Get rid of your portable phone and use your landline. At the very least, don't keep your cell phone in your bedroom while you sleep. Be aware even landline phones emit magnetic fields from the speaker, and sensitive people can sometimes feel them, especially on long calls and particularly when using trim phones. Old-fashioned desk phone earpieces offer a greater distance between the speaker and your ear that can make a meaningful difference.
- Keep your cell phone away from your body. Avoid keeping it in your pocket or on your belt. If you're pregnant, keep your cell phone away from your belly. Keep your phone at the other end of the room or on the seat of the car. Use texting more than talking. A cell phone case for the iPhone is available that filters out a significant portion of radiation (but by no means all the power and frequencies, and other biologically disruptive signal characteristics also remain). There are several options for shielded cell phone cases and holsters at www.EMFSafetyStore.com.
- Use a wired earpiece or headphones with cell phones. Like with landline phones, some people are impacted by the magnetic fields from the speaker in the ear buds, so choose a model with the greatest distance from your ear, or use air tube technology with no electronics near your ear.
- Use caution using your cell phone in your car. Signals bounce around inside your vehicle, and your head is the antenna.
- Opt-out of new utility meters called "smart meters." Prevent smart meters from being installed in your home whenever possible.
- Avoid using wireless baby monitors, as they all operate on microwave frequency. Look for the old wired monitors.
- Know your exposures. You or your community can purchase an RF meter for about $500 to measure RF in homes, schools, churches, etc. See www.EMFSafetyStore.com.
- Support labeling laws that require cell phone manufacturers to list radiation levels in an obvious place on the packaging and at the retailer.