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J Hum Reprod Sci. 2010 Jan-Apr; 3(1): 52.
PMCID: PMC2890913

Cellular phone and germ cell: A comment

Sir,

The cellular phone is a widely used tool at present. The interesting question is whether cellular phone has any effects on germ cell. Basically, the effect of cellular phone on health is believed to due to microwave emitted from the phone. The effect of microwave from cellular phone on germ cell is a controversial issue.[1,2] The topic on health effect of cellular phone is of present interest.[3] Röösli et al. recommended that “a precautionary approach when dealing with radio and microwave frequency radiation is recommended for the individual and the general population.”[4] In this short paper, the author hereby briefly summarizes and comments on the recent reports on the effect of cellular phone on germ cell.

Focusing on the effect of cellular phone on ovary, according to the literature search, there is only one experimental report on this topic published by Gul et al.[1] They reached the conclusion that “microwaves of mobile phones might decrease the number of follicles in rats by several known and, no doubt, countless unknown mechanisms.”[1] There are some important considerations on the results of this work. First, this work had no matched control group and uses few numbers of subjects that might lead to some statistical unreliability. Second, the problem of preanalytical interference can be expected. It should be noted that the author did not monitor the background environmental microwave from external sources in the setting and also did not monitor this during the experiment. Third, whether they detected decreased number of the follicle is a physiological change of the rat during its estrous cycle is not well proved.

Focusing on the effect of cellular phone on testes, there are many reports on the effect of cellular phone on testicular cell. Effect of cellular phone on mammalian cells and sperm DNA as well as its effect on apoptosis is still controversial.[5] In an experimental study, microwaves emitted from a cell phone did not affect the testes of the studied rats.[2] However, similar criticisms on this kind of experiment as earlier discussed should be noted. For human model, Hardell et al. reported on null correlation between exposure to cellular phone and testicular cancer in their case control study.[6] However, there are many recent reports on in vitro studies pointing to the possible effect of cellular phone on human spermatozoa.[710] De Iuliis et al. reported that radiation from cellular phone might induce reactive oxygen species production and DNA damage in human spermatozoa in vitro.[7] Agarwal et al. also observed similar findings in their in vitro study and proposed that “keeping the cell phone in a trouser pocket in talk mode may negatively affect spermatozoa and impair male fertility.”[8] A decrease in the percentage of sperm cells in vital progressing motility in the semen relating to frequency of using mobile phones was also reported by Wdowiak et al.[9] However, these in vitro studies usually depend on small number of tested samples. This makes the limited implication of the results.

In conclusion, effect of cellular phone on the germ cell is still a myth. The previous reports usually pose some problems implying the need for further well-controlled studies for clarification on this topic.

REFERENCES

1. Gul A, Çelebi H, Uğraş S. The effects of microwave emitted by cellular phones on ovarian follicles in rats. Arch Gynecol Obstet. 2009;5:729–33. [PubMed]
2. Dasdag S, Zulkuf Akdag M, Aksen F, Yilmaz F, Bashan M, Mutlu Dasdag M, et al. Whole body exposure of rats to microwaves emitted from a cell phone does not affect the testes. Bioelectromagnetics. 2003;24:182–8. [PubMed]
3. Sneiderman CA, Ackerman MJ. Cellular radio telecommunication for health care: Benefits and risks. J Am Med Inform Assoc. 2004;11:479–81. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
4. Röösli M, Rapp R, Braun-Fahrländer C. Radio and microwave frequency radiation and health—An analysis of the literature. Gesundheitswesen. 2003;65:378–92. [PubMed]
5. Desai NR, Kesari KK, Agarwal A. Pathophysiology of cell phone radiation: Oxidative stress and carcinogenesis with focus on male reproductive system. Reprod Biol Endocrinol. 2009;7:114. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
6. Hardell L, Carlberg M, Ohlson CG, Westberg H, Eriksson M, Hansson Mild K. Use of cellular and cordless telephones and risk of testicular cancer. Int J Androl. 2007;30:115–22. [PubMed]
7. De Iuliis GN, Newey RJ, King BV, Aitken RJ. Mobile phone radiation induces reactive oxygen species production and DNA damage in human spermatozoa in vitro. PLoS One. 2009;4:E6446. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
8. Agarwal A, Desai NR, Makker K, Varghese A, Mouradi R, Sabanegh E, et al. Effects of radiofrequency electromagnetic waves (RF-EMW) from cellular phones on human ejaculated semen: An in vitro pilot study. Fertil Steril. 2009;92:1318–25. [PubMed]
9. Wdowiak A, Wdowiak L, Wiktor H. Evaluation of the effect of using mobile phones on male fertility. Ann Agric Environ Med. 2007;14:169–72. [PubMed]
10. Deepinder F, Makker K, Agarwal A. Cell phones and male infertility: Dissecting the relationship. Reprod Biomed Online. 2007;15:266–70. [PubMed]

Articles from Journal of Human Reproductive Sciences are provided here courtesy of Wolters Kluwer -- Medknow Publications