Cell Phone Frenzy: Cancer Risk and Wimpy Semen

By Byron J. Richards, Board Certified Clinical Nutritionist

June 1, 2011

Cell Phone Frenzy: Cancer Risk and Wimpy Semen
The World Health Organization set off a new cell phone alarm button around the world by concluding after a gathering of scientists that cell phones are possible carcinogens. A few weeks earlier Austrian and Canadian researchers linked cell phone use to poor sperm quality and risk for infertility – a study that hasn’t received the WHO-generated cancer buzz, but is potentially far more important.

The WHO did not report on any new findings. In fact, there is no clear risk data available for any type of cancer. There is plenty of science indicating that cells can be inflamed and altered by cell phones. Yet that is different than proving a clear cancer connection, which quite frankly, will be very hard to do. The significance of the WHO proclamation is more political than scientific. It is telling the cell phone industry that the preponderance of data is indicating risk of some kind, which is a far cry from the position of no risk that the cell phone industry is using to market its products.

I reported several months ago that some of the top scientists in the world at our National Institute of Health proved beyond any shadow of a doubt that cell phones do indeed influence brain function. They didn’t prove a cancer link nor were they trying to prove one, they simply proved what the cell phone industry had been telling everyone was false.

What we are seeing here is a paradigm shift at the level of public health, with top scientists and major health groups taking aim at the propaganda of the cell phone industry.

The new Austrian-Canadian study1 is quite interesting, as it links cell phone use to impaired sperm quality. It evaluated 2110 men entering a fertility clinic between 1993 and 2007. 991 men used cell phones, whereas 1119 did not (don’t ask me where they found these men). Those who used cell phones had higher frequency of pathologic sperm (68% vs 58%). They also had depressed luteinizing hormone (LH) levels, which the researchers believe led to an inability to biologically activate testosterone so as to make healthy sperm. LH production occurs in the pituitary gland of the brain, again implicating, but not proving, that cell phones are altering brain function so as not to make LH.

The issue of cell phone safety and the exact amount of risk in terms of cancer will drag on for many years and is likely to be inconclusive. Actual proof would require the comparison of a large group of users (easy to find) to a matched set of non-users (virtually impossible to find) – meaning conclusive science is unlikely to ever be done.

The science that does exist, points to the fact that cell phones do interact with the brain when held close to the brain for an extended period of time. That interaction is likely to be inflammatory (based on cell studies), and thus would fall into the category of brain stress. We have lots of brain stressors in our lives, cell phone use needs to be added to the list and minimized whenever possible. This would include short-term use, texting instead of talking, and using hands-free devices.

Children, whose brains are in developmental phase, would be at the highest risk for a negative impact.

There are many nutrients that can help protect your brain from all types of stress, including cell phone radiation. Antioxidants are always your basics, and specific antioxidants such as R alpha lipoic acid or the tocotrienol form of vitamin E are known to help buffer free radical stress in the brain. Adequate DHA is critical for brain health and function. It is unfortunate that many members in our society, including children, are woefully lacking in basic brain nutrition and brain-protecting nutrition. Parents can and should influence their child's cell phone exposure as well as their diet quality and antioxidant reserves.

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