Fertility researcher, John Aitken, is advising men wishing to have children to avoid keeping their active mobile phones below the waist. His research group at the University of Newcastle in Australia has found that human sperm exposed to mobile phone radiation (1.8 GHz) for 16 hours had reduced vitality and motility, two key indices of fertility. Notably, he has also confirmed his own previous study, published in 2005, which showed that RF radiation could lead to DNA damage. In that earlier experiment, he had exposed mice to 900 MHz signals and then looked at the animals' sperm, in contrast to the new study in which he exposed semen collected from human volunteers.
The new data show striking dose responses for all three effects over a wide range of SARs —above 0.4 W/Kg and up to 27.5 W/Kg. The changes in motility and vitality became statistically significant at 1 W/Kg and the DNA damage at 2.8 W/Kg. In all cases, the statistical reliability of the effects became much more significant with higher SARs. These new results appear in a paper published on July 31 in PLoS ONE, a Web-based, peer-reviewed journal. All Public Library of Science journals offer free access to all.
"After 16 hours exposure, there was clear evidence of DNA damage," Aitken said at a fertility conference in Brisbane last fall when he first presented these findings. Aitken is the director of the Australian Research Council's Center of Excellence in Biotechnology and Development. "Several independent lines of evidence suggest that RF-EMR has the potential to influence semen quality and could be an important contributor to DNA damage in the male germ line."
Aitken also demonstrated a "potential causative mechanism" as to how RF radiation can lead to DNA damage. He acknowledges that cell phone signals do not have enough energy to directly break chemical bonds, but, he goes on, "[T]his form of radiation may have other effects on larger scale systems such as cells and organelles, which stem from the perturbation of charged molecules and the disruption of electron flow." Specifically he believes that the RF can cause leakage of electrons from the mitochondria and produce reactive oxygen species (ROS), which in turn can attack DNA. This process, he states, is unrelated to thermal stress.