Sleeping With Your Cell Phone May Cause Infertility
In December 2017 we posted that sleeping with your cell phone may cause infertility. The posting caused a mini-storm of responses on our social media platforms. People had varying opinions and were not shy to share them with us! Due to that response, we decided to delve into the subject a little more. We tries to discover what is really behind the claims that cell phones can cause infertility.
The most recent media coverage about cell phone danger isn’t the first time this concern has received media coverage. In fact, countless studies and publications respecting radio frequency (RF) energy and health predated this current round of media coverage. A quick Pubmed search using the terms “cell phone radiation” provides 1521 search results. The the earliest listed publication was in 1993. It names RF as a potential cause of cancer. Many of us will remember the brain cancer scare of the mid 1990s regarding cell phone usage.
This most recent coverage appears to have started with a recent publication by the Division of Environmental and Occupational Disease Control in the California Department of Public Health.
What makes this current ‘scare’ different? Let’s look beyond the snazzy headlines and the thought of your neighbour’s sleeping habits. Is there truth to the claim and if so, what should we do?
Let’s begin with a review of the public health’s document. First, the document makes it clear there is no definitive proof, and scientists are split on whether cell phones (and RF) actually cause health problems. The concerns however are not limited to infertility. Other concerns associated with cell phone RF include:
Tumours of the acoustic nerve and salivary glands
Behavioural and sleep disturbances
Lowered sperm counts and inactive and less mobile sperm
Even without definitive proof of risk, the public health department is concerned. They identify a potential risk and that potential risk is magnified due to the average person’s increased amount of cell phone usage over the past few years.
The public health department also states that simply not using your cell phone is not protective of your health. That is because cell phones emit RF whether or not they are actively in use. For example, frequencies used for voice and texting (SMS) ping or search, for cell phone towers. If you have two or less bars of signal, or are traveling quickly in a car or train, the phone will emit more RF while trying to maintain or find cell phone towers.
In addition, cell phones now emit different frequencies when streaming or downloading large amounts of data; think Spotify or Netflix. In fact, a single cell phone can now emit multiple (more than four sometimes) frequencies of varying strength and speeds, when being actively used or not. A quick online search reveals that in general cell phone frequencies range from 380Mhz-5900Mzh, with the ability to pass through concrete and other hard materials, i.e. human skull?
What does all of this mean for your fertility, and your health in general? In response, the public health department has issued some guidelines that are worth listing and trying to follow.
Keep your phone away from your body; even just a few feet away makes a difference.
When you talk on your cell phone, avoid holding it to your head—use the speakerphone or a headset instead. Wireless (Bluetooth) and wired headsets emit much less RF energy than cell phones.
Send text messages instead of talking on the phone.
If you are streaming or if you are downloading or sending large files, try to keep the phone away from your head and body.
Carry your cell phone in a backpack, briefcase, or purse; NOT in a pocket, bra or belt holster.
Reduce or avoid using your cell phone when it is sending out high levels of RF energy such as when in a fast moving car or when it has limited connectivity.
Don’t sleep with your phone in your bed or near your head. Unless it’s on airplane mode, we recommend moving as far from your bed as possible, at least out of the bedroom in you can.
Take off the headset when you’re not on a call. A wired headset can act as an antenna, emitting RF as well.
Don’t rely on a “radiation shield” or other products claiming to block RF energy, electromagnetic fields, or radiation from cell phones. This shield may cause your phone to increase its RF emissions in an attempt to connect to a cell phone tower.
A final word.
When this story first broke in the 1990s, there was no internet on cell phones. Usage was generally quite limited. Perhaps, it’s time to consider our patterns of general usage, and in particular the general usage patterns of our children/teens and their cells phones. How old were you when you started using your first cell phone? How many years of accumulated RF have you received from that device? Multiply that exposure (and risk) for children, some of whom own and heavily use cell phones as early as 8 years old.