Can mobiles make you infertile?
Sanjay Jha | June 10, 2008 at 08:22 pmby
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In a recent pilot studydone at Jawaharlal Nehru University, rats subjected to radiation from mobilephones were found to have damaged DNA and low sperm count, leading toinfertility and reduction in testis size. The Union health ministry now wants tofind out whether excessive cellphone use could be having the same adverseeffects on your health.
The ministry has commissioned India's firstlargescale study on the effects of radio frequency radiation (RFR) from mobilephones on humans. Initiated by Union health minister A Ramadoss and to bespearheaded by the Indian Council of Medical Research, which has just completedfinalizing the protocol, the five-year study will be conducted by JNU's Schoolof Environmental Sciences and three departments of AIIMS — obstetrics andgynaecology, neurology and biochemistry.
One of the importantspinoffs of the study will involve measuring the wavelength and frequency of RFDemitted from various types of cellphones used in India to see whether or notthese conform to internationalstandards.
Study to find ifexcessive cellphone use causes cancer
A study commissioned bythe Union health minister will look at the effect radio frequency radiation(RFR) has on neurological disorders like cognitive impairment, depression andsleep-related disorders. Scientists will look at whether excessive mobile phoneuse changes the white matter of the brain and causes physiologicalabnormalities.
They will also study RFR's effect on reproductivehealth like menstrual cycle, hormonal changes in women, its effect on malereproductive functions and whether it causes abnormalities in the malereproductive tract.
According to ICMR deputy director general andlead investigator R S Sharma, the study will also see whether excessive mobileuse can cause cancer or increase the spread of cancerous cells in those alreadyaffected.
Dr J Behari from JNU's School of Environmental Sciencesrecently conducted a pilot study on 20 rats, who were subjected to two hours ofRFR for 35 days in a sample chamber. "We found significant double strand DNAbreak in sperm cells that could mutate and cause cancer, significant lowering ofsperm count and reduction in testis size. The human study would be pathbreaking," Dr Behari told TOI.
The study will recruit4,000 subjects, who will be divided into five groups — heavy exposure malegroup (1,000 men who talk on the mobile phone for more than four hours a day),moderate exposure male group (1,000 men who speak for more than two hours butless than four), control group (1,000 men who don't use a cellphone), 500heavily exposed women and a 500-strong female control group.
DrSharma said, "We will also calculate the specific absorption rate (SAR) —how much RFD is absorbed by our body when we speak on the mobile — and thepower density — power generated by the phone both inside and outside ourhead when we talk. This will help quantify the magnitude of damage caused bymobile radiation."
The 4,000 subjects will undergo a series ofclinical tests, blood and semen analysis, polysomnography, MRI, ECG, bloodchemistry, gynaecological and infertility examinations and DNAtests.
At present, India has 250 million cellphone users. By the endof 2010, this figure is estimated to rise to 500 million. A health ministryofficial said, "India's tremendous growth in cellular phone use has greatlyincreased the extent and magnitude of RFR exposure. These new technologies havebeen introduced without full provision of information about their nature andwithout prior discussion within the scientific community about its possibleconsequences for health."
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