US male infertility findings inconsistent with major research and scientific consensus

Research conducted by the Cleveland Clinic on male fertility in the US is inconsistent with other research in the area and with the scientific consensus that there are no substantiated health effects from mobile phones, Australian Mobile Telecommunications Association CEO Chris Althaus said.

He said the US research on male infertility is not new. It was first reported in 2006 and was only recently published in 2008.

Mr Althaus said a comprehensive review prepared for the European Commission in November 2007 on electromagnetic fields and fertility found no convincing scientific evidence of adverse effects. The report concluded:

Overall, the literature indicates that exposure to low intensity fields, at levels experienced by members of the public, should not have a significant impact on fertility or on development either before or after birth.

Mr Althaus said the World Health Organisation (WHO), leading experts and international health authorities had found that radio frequency from mobile phones and their base stations did not cause any adverse health consequences. The WHO’s most recent advice says:

None of the recent reviews have concluded that exposure to the RF (radiofrequency) fields from mobile phones and their base stations cause any adverse health consequences.

Mr Althaus was responding to media reports that a study of 361 men at the Cleveland Clinic in the US had found an association between the patients’ mobile phone use and their sperm quality.

The lead researcher at the clinic, Dr Ashok Agarwal, said: “Our results show a strong association of cell phone use with decreased semen quality. However, they do not prove a cause-and-effect relationship.”

Mr Althaus said the study’s findings of an association between mobile phone use and lower sperm quality is inconsistent with other studies in this area.

“It is important that claims such as this are supported by replicated scientific studies that have been subjected to peer review and independent analysis rather than draw conclusions from one-off studies,” he said.

“Other researchers in this field have noted that many factors can influence a man’s sperm count. These include stress, obesity, heat and lifestyle – anyone of these factors may have confused the results in the Cleveland Clinic study.

“Sperm count varies widely over time and temporary low counts are common. Drugs such as alcohol and tobacco, stress and occupation can all affect sperm quality.

“It is important to remember that no single study can answer any scientific question and all studies need to be seen in the light of the total research effort into mobile phone safety.”