rapid movement of the modern age and the vast usage of technological equipment, it has become a constant question on whether radio frequencies are damaging to human health. Cell phones are known to emit relatively high doses of electromagnetic waves, which in some research, has been pinpointed to the adverse effect that it has on males, namely the issue on fertility. Reports have been made indicating that cell phones might be another risk factor regarding the rise of male infertility due to its frequency emissions. While previous research has found no conclusive tie-ins to the phenomena, the latest technology and data have shown the contrary, though even this research is still subject to much scrutiny. Overall, there are too many variables to indicate that cell phones would be a main cause for male fertility, not without discussing the various other factors that help infertility along.
Infertility as defined in the research is the inability to conceive after a year of sexual intercourse without the use of contraceptives (Wdowiak, 2007). According to data, infertility affects 15% of couples around their reproductive age (Agarwal, 2007). In 50% of the cases of infertility within the couples, at least half of those cases are caused by males (Wdowiak, 2007), with which 1 in 20 are males are affected (De Iuliis, 2009). The infertility in males are caused by various environmental factors, most of which result in the decrease of sperm count after ejaculation or the disorders in motility of the spermatozoa in their movement towards the egg. Some agents said to be the cause of this infertility and sperm motility disorders include chemical substances, ionizing radiation, stress, and electromagnetic waves (Wdowiak, 2007).
A recent contributing factor in the condition of male infertility has been found in the sperm DNA delivered to the oocyte at the moment of fertilization (De Iuliis, 2009). Embryonic stage does not develop until the fertilization of the egg with the use of the spermatozoa, and any alteration to sperm DNA can be cause enough for disruptive fragmentation. Some results in this DNA fragmentation has been linked to poor embryonic development, high miscarriage rates, increased morbidity of offspring, and impaired fertilization altogether (De Iuliis, 2009). One possible explanation of a highly contributory factor of this DNA sperm alteration would be an increased exposure to radio-frequency electromagnetic radiation (De Iuliis, 2009).
Cell Phones and Wave Frequencies
Cell phone usage has skyrocketed internationally, especially with the release of multi-purpose phones that function as cameras, e-mail carriers, and numerous other applications. A person's everyday lifestyle seems to be majorly connected to cell phone use. By this observation, one can say that a person has been subjected to an onslaught of radio-frequencies, of which cell phones also emit with constant largess.
The amount of radio-frequency (RF) a person is exposed to usually depends on the type of the cell phone. A common cell phone in the United States works at around 900-1900 MHz, while most other countries have a range of 850-1800 MHz (Agarwal, 2007). A cell phone carries and emits more energy in accordance to the amount of frequency used; the more frequency, the higher the energy. This energy radiated by the cell phones is then absorbed by humans through three types of mechanisms: aerial effect -- in which the body receives and absorbs RF signals depending on the size of the person's body and the signal's wavelength, the coupling of the RF signal with the tissue, and the resonant absorption (Agarwal, 2007).
The amount of RF energy absorbed from the phone into human local tissue can usually be recorded as the specific absorption rate (SAR), which allows for a better look at RF exposure in the body (Agarwal, 2007). Because of close proximity use of cell phones, the SAR is limited to only a certain amount of wattage per cell phone. SAR varies from 0.12-1.6 watts/kg, with an upper limit of 1.6 watts/kg in the United States (Agarwal, 2007).
Research and Study Regarding Radiobiology
The work in radiobiology regarding RF-EMR has produced studies that have led to a further understanding of the effects of radiation in mammalian tissue. The statistical studies male fertility and the experiments on the DNA on rat specimen have uncovered effects of the gradual decrease in sperm count in the passage of time. Agalwar spoke of a 2005 study with 371 men undergoing infertility evaluations, in which prolonged use of cell phones negatively affected sperm motility (Agalwar, 2007). A subsequent 2006 study indicated that sperm motility and semen samples decreased in 27 men who were exposed to 900 MHz cell phones for the duration of 5 minutes (Agalwar, 2007). It has also been found that there might be a decrease in sperm concentration when the cell phones were kept to the waist as opposed to keeping them elsewhere (Agalwar, 2007).
In a Polish study that took place in 2004-2006, it had been observed that of the 304 males covered by the study, 65.7% of the males who were not using cell phones had normal spermiograms "with respect to [the] parameters concerning [the] percentage of sperm cells in live vital and slow progressive motility" (Wdowiak, 2007). Of those males who had normal and vital sperm count, only 35.4% of them were those who used cell phones with great normality, 48 of them even using it with regularity for over two years. The third study among the research sources focused on an in vitro experiment regarding intracellular reactive oxygen species (ROS) production and the effects thereof when subjected to RF-EMR (De Iuliis, 2009). The conclusion drawn from this study was that human health and exposure to RF-EMR can be linked. At certain defined frequencies, RF-EMR has the potential to cause a range of clinical conditions, including but not limited to: leukemia, brain tumors, genotoxicity, and other neurodegenerative diseases (De Iuliis, 2009).
Effects of Radio Frequencies and Electromagnetic Waves on Male Fertility
The main research regarding male fertility and cell phones then ask the question of the link between the two. Previous studies have tried to prove that the electromagnetic wave (EMW) frequencies emitted by cell phones contribute to the deterioration of human health and particularly the cause for male infertility. At high intensities, RF radiation has heating properties that lead to thermal effects, increasing body temperature and heat in the tissue, which may cause reversible disruption of spermatogenesis (Agarwal, 2007). The effect of EMW depends on the wave frequency and intensity of the RF waves. Hazardous levels on human tissue is tenfold that of cell phone frequencies; as high as 0.3-300 GHz and an increase in body temperature can be dictated as dangerous in the body (Wdowiak, 2007).
Further exposure to radio-frequency electromagnetic radiation (RF-EMR) can induce further DNA damage, particularly in spermatozoa (Agarwal, 2007). Though the wave levels are far from hazardous, there are still risks particularly affecting spermatozoa. EMW have the possibility of affecting the state of polarization in the body's cellular membranes (Wdowiak, 2007). This polarization can disrupt spermatogenesis and the sperm's ability to penetrate an egg cell. Through further research, it has also been stated that RF-EMR can be closely linked to DNA fragmentation in human spermatozoa (De Iuliis, 2009). Spermatozoa suffers extreme vulnerability after DNA damage, as they lose the cytoplasm, and thus the capacity for reparations after spermiation (Agarwal, 2007).
Conclusions and Suggestions in Further Radiation Research
Radiation is a continually growing concern for a technology-oriented society. Particularly with the increase in EMW in cell phones, television sets, radios, and computers, among other appliances, it has become a cause for concern where radiation protection is involved. A better understanding of the causes of radiation can bring about further studies in the preventive methods that could lessen the adverse effects linked to human health. The major problem, however, is that the study involving cell phones and male infertility may not be producing proper evidence that can conclusively link the emission of EMW from cell phones to male health. Other environmental factors need to be considered, among them the possibility of male exposure to their workplace and their geographical location.
Possible exposure to radio-frequencies can be pinpointed to the amount of exposure a male has to the computers and television screens at his workplace. Perhaps he is constantly exposed to EMW through the use of a desktop computer or laptop that is integral to his financial stability. Another possibility of exposure could be the possibility of the male's close proximity to a radio tower. Geographic data should be a variable in further observations of males with gradually decreasing sperm. Genetics can also play a large part in spermatogenesis. Medical histories vary between males, and one who uses a cell phone continuously does not necessarily mean that he is not susceptible to genetic imperfections during his lifetime. While the research highlighted in this paper do indicate the problems with the experiment -- hence the inconclusivity of the studies regarding EMW and cell phones, as well as the studies of male infertility -- there should…