Save the Males!

By Devra Davis, PhD, MPH.

Memo to men: if you want to father a healthy child, keep your laptop off your lap. As Reuters reported on November 29, a study in the journal Fertility and Sterility has sobering news: sperm from healthy men placed under a laptop wirelessly connected to the Internet died twice as fast as those that were not exposed, and developed three times more damage to their DNA. The culprit: Invisible microwave radiation that conducts wireless communication, according to the Argentinian scientists who performed the experiment.

Even if you choose to ignore this and similar test-tube based results, other studies in real men carried out at the Cleveland Clinic and Australia’s National Research Center of Excellence in Biotechnology and Development link cellphone use with fewer and more damaged sperm. Experiments conducted with rats and rabbits have also produced compelling evidence on the sperm-damaging impact of microwave radiation.

Prof. Stan Glantz, the acclaimed University of California researcher who exposed how the tobacco industry fomented scientific doubts about its dangers, just last month told a Berkeley City Hearing on the subject that he found today’s cellphone science comparable to that on tobacco dangers in the 1950s—growing and worrisome. “As a male contraceptive, cell phones aren’t really reliable, but clearly something is going on.”

What are we doing to our children? Should we really be giving babies plastic rattle cases for iPhones that they can hold right over those tender zones that will someday determine their capacity to make healthy babies themselves? Mary Redmayne of Victoria University found that a majority of New Zealand adolescents carried a switched-on cell phone in their pants pocket for more than six hours daily and that most can text without looking. When asked about this work, New Zealand fertility expert Ken McNatty warned, “It’s long been known that infertility can be caused by DNA damage to sperm or eggs…. Now there is evidence to suggest that cell phone microwaves also cause DNA damage to sperm.”

Few folks know that smartphones and other wireless devices come with manufacturers’ fine-print warnings not to hold them next to the body, that controlled studies show that microwave radiation from cell phones weakens the brain’s protective barrier, and that test animals exposed to such radiation produce fewer and more damaged sperm and offspring with smaller and more damaged brains. Just keeping a phone in the shirt or pants pocket can result in four to seven times more microwave radiation exposure in adults than the Federal Communications Commission recommends. For the smaller bodies of children, of course, levels would be even greater.

Want to give your kids a really cool holiday gift this year? Think again before offering them the chance to microwave their small bodies and brains.

© 2011 Devra Davis, PhD, MPH. HeartMD Institute has reprinted this article with permission from Dr. Davis.

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