New study to probe link between mobiles and sperm count

A researcher who previously discovered a link between mobile phone usage and men's fertility is conducting a new study.

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A researcher who previously discovered a link between mobile phone usage and men's fertility is conducting a new study.

Dr Ashok Agarwal’s first study found that sperm count and quality was "significantly lower" in men who used mobile phones for more than fours hours per day. It was conducted in 2004 and 2005, analysing 361 men who visited an infertility clinic.

Agarwal is now in the "early stages" of a follow-up study, although it is too early to say how many men will be studied or to discuss other details, a spokesperson for Cleveland Clinic said. Agarwal was unavailable for comment.

In October 2006, Agarwal presented findings of the first study at a medical conference, which led to a flurry of news coverage at the time. Recent publication of the findings on the web sparked much media attention.

Agarwal and his associates published the results in a scientific journal, Fertility and Sterility and also in a shorter form in Urology News. The Urology News article appeared last year, but the longer version was distributed at sciencedirect.com last month, which apparently led to the recent surge in media attention, said clinic spokeswoman Lisa Bast.

"There's been a lot of attention on the story, and we've had several calls in the last couple of days," said Cleveland Clinic spokeswoman Lisa Bast.

In a story widely posted on the web this week, Agarwal reportedly told Reuters that the original study is being followed by two studies on the topic, one with a larger group. However, Bast said there is apparently actually only one follow-up study underway.

Responses to the news articles on the web blasted the research for surfacing again when it concerns a relatively small sample."Wasn't that the same study from a while ago that was written about in the press in 2006?" asked Joe Farren, a spokesman for the CTIA-the Wireless Association. "You can't draw any conclusions from that."

Farren said CTIA and its wireless carrier members have been careful to track studies regarding any impact from wireless usage on the human body. "We support good science and always have," Farren said. "It's important to look at studies that are peer reviewed and published in leading journals and to listen to the experts."

CTIA has found through many studies that "there is no association between health risks and wireless usage", Farren said. Federal regulators limit the electromagnetic frequency emissions from phones, and manufacturers’ EMF emissions are well below those limits, he said.

Farren pointed to a study out of Japan released this week that discounts previous links between mobile phone use and cancer. And the American Cancer Society has said that mobile phone use and cancer is one of the "Top 10 Cancer Myths", he noted.

However, the National Cancer Institute has laid out a summary of research into the subject, and notes on its website that "overall, research has not consistently demonstrated a link between cellular telephone use and cancer or any other adverse health effect".

As for the impact of mobile phone usage on sperm quality, Farren said CTIA is awaiting the results of further study.

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