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Can Mobiles Make Your Infertile?
The Times of India
Journalist: Kounteya Sinha
June 12, 2008

In a recent pilot study done at Jawaharlal Nehru University, rats subjected to radiation from mobile phones were found to have damaged DNA and low sperm count, leading to infertility and reduction in testis size. The Union health ministry now wants to find out whether excessive cellphone use could be having the same adverse effects on your health.

The ministry has commissioned India's first largescale study on the effects of radio frequency radiation (RF R) from mobile phones on humans. Initiated by Union health minister A Ramadoss and to be spearheaded by the Indian Council of Medical Research, which has just completed finalizing the protocol, the five-year study will be conducted by JNU's School of Environmental Sciences and three departments of AIIMS - obstetrics and gynaecology, neurology and biochemistry.

One of the important spinoffs of the study will involve measuring the wavelength and frequency of RFD emitted from various types of cellphones used in India to see whether or not these conform to international standards.

Study to find if excessive cellphone use causes cancer

A study commissioned by the Union health minister will look at the effect radio frequency radiation (RF R) has on neurological disorders like cognitive impairment, depression and sleep-related disorders. Scientists will look at whether excessive mobile phone use changes the white matter of the brain and causes physiological abnormalities.

They will also study RF R's effect on reproductive health like menstrual cycle, hormonal changes in women, its effect on male reproductive functions and whether it causes abnormalities in the male reproductive tract.

According to ICMR deputy director general and lead investigator R S Sharma, the study will also see whether excessive mobile use can cause cancer or increase the spread of cancerous cells in those already affected.

Dr J Behari from JNU's School of Environmental Sciences recently conducted a pilot study on 20 rats, who were subjected to two hours of RF R for 35 days in a sample chamber. "We found significant double strand DNA break in sperm cells that could mutate and cause cancer, significant lowering of sperm count and reduction in testis size. The human study would be path breaking," Dr Behari told TOI.

The study will recruit 4,000 subjects, who will be divided into five groups - heavy exposure male group (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 but less than four), control group (1,000 men who don't use a cellphone), 500 heavily exposed women and a 500-strong female control group.

Dr Sharma 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 the power density - power generated by the phone both inside and outside our head when we talk. This will help quantify the magnitude of damage caused by mobile radiation."

The 4,000 subjects will undergo a series of clinical tests, blood and semen analysis, polysomnography, MRI, ECG, blood chemistry, gynaecological and infertility examinations and DNA tests.

At present, India has 250 million cellphone users. By the end of 2010, this figure is estimated to rise to 500 million. A health ministry official said, "India's tremendous growth in cellular phone use has greatly increased the extent and magnitude of RF R exposure. These new technologies have been introduced without full provision of information about their nature and without prior discussion within the scientific community about its possible consequences for health."

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