Are Cell Phones Bad for Male Fertility?

Ideally, the introduction of a novel stimulus to our environment would be preceded by rigorous safety studies conducted by independent researchers. Applied to industrial seed oils, wheat, running shoes, and office chairs, this protocol could have saved us a lot of pain and suffering. If you wait until way after the fact to wonder whether they might be bad for us – as we tend to do – these admittedly inexpensive/addictive/profit-reaping stimuli become entrenched. They become part of the culture. Wheat and soybeans? Much of the world depends on both or either, for food, livestock feed, and cooking oil. Most runners, walkers, and orthopedists think barefooting is suicidal, and you’ll pull something trying to pry chairs away from our tight, stiff hips.

Some would include the cell phone on that list of toxic stimuli deserving closer scrutiny. The cell phone certainly satisfies the “entrenchment” criterion. It has become ubiquitous. Everyone has cell phones – kids, teens, parents, grandparents – and home phones are becoming quaint things. I doubt any of my employees even have landlines anymore, for example. I’ve got one, but it’s rarely used. But is the cell phone really toxic? You’ve probably heard about the possible links between cell phone radiation and brain cancer, which I’ve discussed in the past. A recent report by the World Health Organization has reignited interest in the possibility of a cancer-phone connection, but, as I said in the earlier post, I’m just not that worried about brain cancer. It’s a rare disease, even if gabbing on the phone does increase your chance of developing it, and I’m not a big cell phone talker, anyway. So, does that take care of that? Are cell phones off the hook?

Perhaps not. It’s not as scary or headline-grabbing as brain cancer, but some researchers claim that exposure to electromagnetic waves from cell phones can negatively effect certain physiological barometers of male fertility, including sperm count (the more sperm per ejaculation, the greater the chance of impregnation), sperm motility (the ability of sperm to head in the direction of the egg determines their ability to fertilize), and morphology (physical structure of the sperm). I’d argue that reproductive health affects every male. Even if he never plans to reproduce, an adult male should have the capability to do so, because an inability indicates and even predicts future health problems. A fertile man is a healthy man.


Cell phone use is at a historically unprecedented level, because, well, cell phones have only been readily available for around twenty years or so, and they’ve only become entrenched in the last decade (Zack Morris and Gordon Gekko-style phones don’t really count). I don’t think I have to provide a reference for that when a quick look around the coffee shop or bus or train (or freeway) will reveal a cell phone in every pocket, hand, or totally awesome hip-holster. Meanwhile, sperm counts have been steadily dropping for years, mostly in industrialized countries and especially in the United States. I indicted poor bone density and the influence of endocrine-disrupting chemicals in a previous post on male infertility, but I’m not opposed to the notion that stationing an electromagnetic wave-emitting device adjacent to one’s testicles for the better part of the day might negatively impact fertility. It’s not clear if sperm count has continued to drop through the last ten years, because we don’t have reliable, conclusive sperm count numbers from the last 2, 5, or even 10 years. For what it’s worth, Slate suggests poor male fertility might explain the drop in teen pregnancy rates.

Basically, cell phone usage is way up, most people keep them nestled next to their reproductive bits, but sperm counts had already been dropping for decades before cell phones entered the scene. We also don’t know if sperm counts have continued to drop in the past ten years (though most signs point to yes) and if they have, we can’t say that cell phones are the (or a) cause. The data simply isn’t available.

Animal Trials

Animal studies offer valuable avenues of insight into potential health risks. They allow researchers to test hypotheses generated from epidemiology, tease out cause and effect, and explore biological mechanisms, thus paving the way for further trials, sometimes involving humans. Also, it’s legal to bathe rabbit testicles in electromagnetic waves from cell phones to determine whether fertility is affected. Human males, not so much (though we often do it of our own volition). There have been many animal trials on the subject, so let’s look at a few of them:


Rabbits subjected to a normal 8-hours-in-your-pocket dose of cell phone electromagnetic waves showed lowered sperm count at six weeks (from 304 x 106/mL to 133 x 106/mL), impaired sperm motility at week ten, and a significant reduction in the diameter of the seminiferous tubules (the tubular structures in the testicles where sperm is manufactured; smaller diameter means lower output). Control rabbits displayed normal numbers across the board. As to whether this is relevant to humans, the seminiferous tubular diameters of infertile men are often smaller than in fertile men.

Cell phone-using rabbits displayed lower levels of fructose in their semen than control rabbits. We produce seminal fructose with androgen hormones, and a lack of it indicates poor seminal vesicle function. In humans, increasing seminal fructose levels improves sperm motility.


Electromagnetic waves from cell phones induced an infertility pattern in the reproductive capabilities of rats, with significant levels of free radicals inducing oxidative damage. Similar treatment with cell phone waves lowered sperm count and induced apoptosis (cell death) in another group of rats.

Sixty minutes of cell phone exposure a day for three months reduced serum testosterone in male rats. Testosterone is crucial for all aspects of the reproductive process, obviously.

Those are animal studies, albeit somewhat convincing ones. They show that cell phone waves can do something to rat and rabbit male fertility well enough to make us wonder about humans.

Human Studies

One “human” study back in 2008 got some headlines. “Cell phones can affect sperm quality, researcher says” read a headline describing the study, even as the very same researcher quoted in the headline acknowledged its major limitations. First of all, it was an in vitro study. They exposed 16 isolated semen samples in test tubes to an 850 MHz (a commonly used frequency) cell phone on talk mode 2.5 cm away for an hour. Compared to the control group of 16 samples, the exposed semen displayed 85% more oxidative stress and showed poorer sperm motility. And although researchers attempted to recreate normal everyday exposure by positioning the phones 2.5 cm away, they couldn’t account for the added skin, muscle, bone, and blood standing in the way of a pocketed cell phone as it tries to send electromagnetic waves toward the testicles. Would the effect be the same in a real world situation? Would it be amplified, reduced? Does flesh protect against radiation, so much that the electromagnetic waves from a cell phone in your pocket would never actually reach your testicles?

In another in vitro study, isolated sperm from healthy donors subjected to 900 MHz waves showed altered morphology and poor binding at the hemizona (binding at the hemizona is crucial for reproduction). Another in vitro study found that cell phone radiation impaired human sperm motility.

Researchers, guessing that it was the apoptosis (cell death) induced by cell phones that was wreaking havoc on animal fertility, tested whether the idea held up in human spermatozoa. It did not. When exposed to cell phone radiation, “highly motile” human sperm showed no indication of apoptosis.

There are also interesting observational studies. The most recent one revealed that cell phone-using male fertility patients had lower sperm counts than male patients who did not use a cell phone, as others have before. Oddly, the cell users in this study had higher circulating testosterone. How can this be? Isn’t high testosterone good for sperm production? Yes, but the cell users were also lower in luteinizing hormone, which helps convert circulating testosterone to the type used to produce sperm.

What do we make of this?

First of all, don’t freak out. Everyone has a cell phone now and yet somehow we manage to propagate the species, so it’s not catastrophic. That doesn’t preclude the existence of a negative effect, however. In fact, if I had to bet, I’d say the way we use and carry cell phones (eight to ten hours a day in our pocket) probably has an effect on our fertility. It might be small, and it might be limited to those with poor eating and exercising habits and heavy endocrine-disrupting chemical loads, but it’s worth considering. Here are my suggestions:

  • Don’t use your genitals to answer phone calls. It’s a great party trick, but it might decrease your fertility.
  • If you’re worried (especially if you plan on having kids), get regular sperm checks. Get a baseline quality assessment (motility, count), make a concerted effort to keep your cell phone off or away from your crotch when not in use, and test your numbers again after a month. Aim for at least 20 million per mL, which is on the low end of normal.
  • Leave your phone in your bag when you’re out with it, if you have one. If you don’t, consider buying one. Remember, it’s a man-bag, not a purse.
  • Take your phone out of your pocket when it’s possible – while driving, at a restaurant, at home, at the coffee shop.
  • Leave your phone at home/office. Out for a walk at lunch or after dinner? Resist the urge to fill your pocket with phone. Instead, use this time to disengage from the phone world and be present in the outside world.
  • Turn your phone off. Obviously, if you’re expecting an important call, keep it on. If you’re just keeping the phone on your person for readiness’ sake, turn the phone off until you want to check it.
  • If you’re trying to have kids, keep cell phones away from that area. Of course, remember that plenty of cell phone users have impregnated women, very possibly with a cell phone in the pocket at the time of conception.

I’m done having kids, and I’ve never been a slave to the phone, so I”m not going to stress over this. After all, we know that stress definitely kills, maims, and otherwise injures millions of people, whereas the cell phone effect is still murky. That said, if I were to have kids, I would make it a point to avoid heavy cell phone usage while trying. I wouldn’t bother with tin-foil codpieces or anything like that. I’d just limit my phone time and try to keep it out of my pocket, or off. That seems like a fair, reasonable move to make, and a safe bet, too, until more evidence accumulates in either direction. I’m glad that researchers are asking questions (PDF) like “Cell Phones: Modern Man’s Nemesis?” (awesomely worded). Better late than never. If it turns out that electromagnetic waves from cell phones are a chronic toxin (I think acute toxicity is out of the question at this point), I doubt society will stop using them en masse, but workarounds and mitigation strategies will know what they’re up against.

The science definitely isn’t settled, but there are clues. What are your thoughts on cell phones and male fertility? If you see cell phones in the pocket as a problem, how do you mitigate or avoid it? Let everyone know in the comment section!

About the Author

Mark Sisson is the founder of Mark’s Daily Apple, godfather to the Primal food and lifestyle movement, and the New York Times bestselling author of The Keto Reset Diet. His latest book is Keto for Life, where he discusses how he combines the keto diet with a Primal lifestyle for optimal health and longevity. Mark is the author of numerous other books as well, including The Primal Blueprint, which was credited with turbocharging the growth of the primal/paleo movement back in 2009. After spending three decades researching and educating folks on why food is the key component to achieving and maintaining optimal wellness, Mark launched Primal Kitchen, a real-food company that creates Primal/paleo, keto, and Whole30-friendly kitchen staples.

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81 thoughts on “Are Cell Phones Bad for Male Fertility?”

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  1. I was under the impression that the holsters protected you from much of the radiation you would be exposed to compared to having the cell phone in your pocket. Does anyone know if they do indeed make a difference?

      1. AHAHAHA I think I’d rather use a pay phone than walk around with such an unwieldy contraption….

      2. If there were a ‘fan’ button here I’d be pressing it for you right now!

  2. If other people think it is a purse…then it is a purse. Maybe I can get a nice manly black bag with “Man Bag!!” written in big letters across it. There would be no disputing that! :D.

        1. I call it a murse. I got this term in 1979 from a consultant (a full professor from Boston) who used one carry his wallet, passport, and constable’s badge, to help make room for the holster of his 357 revolver. I said the murse looked very good on him.

    1. couldn’t have said it better myself, if other people think it’s a purse, then that’s what it is! i’ll admit having a man bag would be convenient, but i don’t think i could bring myself to do it

    2. A backpack serves the purpose of a man bag and you can even keep a bag (or bags) inside for superior organization. No one laughs at you for wearing a backpack.

  3. I knew it! For some reason this thought popped into my head about two months ago and wouldn’t leave. Ever since I’ve put my phone in my desk, in the passenger seat of the car, or just carried it.

  4. While I don’t like the idea of having my wedding tackle irradiated, I think there’s far worse things out there to worry about. Additionally, it’s pretty straightforward to pull your phone out and put it on your desk, or dashboard, or whatever. Just make it a habit, and you can greatly reduce the amount of time you’re BBQing your junk.

  5. I’d be curious to see some studies done in Europe, where mobile phone usage is and always has been way ahead of North America.

  6. Even treadmills have shown to increase insulin resistance from ‘dirty electricity’.

  7. The only thing worse than a purse would be a “man bag.” Maybe I can handle the funny shoes, but not this…

  8. I’ve got three kids and a vasectomy, so “fertility” in that sense doesn’t move me.

    The lowered testosterone in Rats is more disconcerting.

    As I’m sitting here my phone is in my right front pocket. It’s lying against the outside of my right thigh so that the entirety of my leg is between phone and, um, bits.

    I don’t think this is an issue, but I’ll keep an eye out for more research.

  9. “Don’t use your genitals to answer phone calls. It’s a great party trick, but it might decrease your fertility.” LOL! Mark, you are a stitch!

    Tim Ferriss mentions this in “4-Hour Body”, and Dana read me the relevant sections. I’m not so worried about sperm count, although as you said, a fertile man is a healthy man, so it does matter. I AM concerned about testosterone levels, especially since I started high-intensity strength training. So, though the jury still seems to be out, I went ahead and bought an armband carrier (like joggers put their iPods in) for when I need it, and otherwise carry it in my “man-bag” — a camera bag I bought at Kmart. (Great disguise!)

  10. I read this a few months back while skimming the Tim Ferris “4-Hour Body”. I have also taken the advice to heart & avoid carrying the cell in my pocket. I could NEVER imagine putting a cell phone INSIDE my ear, which just seems dumb, anyways!

  11. So teaching my crotch to talk was useless? BAH! Valuable time down the drain.

  12. I’ve tried putting my phone on my arm or leg (in one of those sports-band ipod holders), but it always ends up getting hot, sweaty, and uncomfortable.

    Perhaps an invention? A product that you can wear on your arm or leg to keep your cell phone away from the jewels and still be comfortable/breathable.

  13. Which phrase was funnier:

    “Don’t use your genitals to answer phone calls. It’s a great party trick, but it might decrease your fertility.”


    “Of course, remember that plenty of cell phone users have impregnated women, very possibly with a cell phone in the pocket at the time of conception.”

    I can’t decide… 🙂

      1. Also “tin-foil codpieces” made me giggle 🙂 Mark, you had WAY too much fun writing this one!!

    1. Me neither, but I’d be impressed to see someone pull both of those off at the same time.

  14. “Don’t use your genitals to answer phone calls.”

    You need to put that on a t-shirt. 🙂

  15. I can call my wife from anywhere, and I have a reduced chance of an unwanted pregnancy with her now that we’ve had all the kids we could ever want? That’s a win-win in my book!

  16. Hi Mark,

    Huge fan of the blog. I’ve just started eating Primal (okay, I’m a bad Grok, but I’m trying…) and I’m going through your book.

    It just so happens I work for a public health organization that works on this issue. Brain cancer isn’t the biggest worry with cell phones, as our Founder’s recent post highlights in the huffington post:

    I hope you’ll check out the following links, as it shows the highlights of the most current research out there – that being a conference done this past May,

    Everyone, please feel free to send me an email requesting the actual journals. I’ve given you my direct address – I’m not sure all the Grokers can see it, so visit the site for more contact info, as I’m afraid of bots. (SPAM!)

    Thanks everyone for being a great community, and I’m sorry if I sound like I’m pitching. I feel like you guys have helped me change my health for the better, and I want to return the favor.

    Cell phone radiation is so easy to cut down on, I think everyone should get the warning.

  17. One problem I see with leaving the cell at home/office/etc. is that their are very few pay phones left. In an emergency, or even if your car breaks down, you are depending on the kindness of strangers. So I carry the darned thing everywhere, not always turned on, usually in my fanny pack, or purse if you prefer. The word purse referring to something carried by men was fine until this country was swept by homophobia.

    1. Then continue to take it with you everywhere but turn it off.

      I went to Harry Potter World this past weekend with my sister and one of our best friends. I had a blast but was truly annoyed by how many times they checked their facebook feed on their phone.

      I plan on getting an iPhone 4 later this year… I sure hope that I don’t have that urge to check my damn facebook every second. I mean… it can be fun and contribute to managing your stress effectively but it can just get out of hand and lead to more stress in the long run.

      If I buy one I may just keep it off often.

      1. I’m thinking of canceling my smartphone because I hate the way I’m on it all the time, feels a little out of control.

    1. Funny, I agree. Cell phone as birth control – it already is just that. When people are talking on the phone all the time, it keeps them from meeting each other in the first place. And if they’ve already met each other, and, say, they’re a couple, it keeps them from connecting. The long and short of it is that people often connect electronically INSTEAD OF in person, and when they are together, they use that time to connect electronically with OTHER PEOPLE. It’s crazy. I’ve made a conscious choice not to. When I’m spending time with someone, my phone stays in my purse unless something pretty close to an emergency arises. Better that way. What do you think? 🙂


        I mentioned it in the comment above but its worth saying again to the world…

        If you are hanging out with other people, socializing, then please do not check your facebook. Connecting on facebook is a FANTASTIC REVOLUTION. But, when it REPLACES interaction with people FACE to FACE then it, well, just needs to stop.

        Turn off your notifications and only check your facebook when you are alone. Use it to make friends and then go MEET that friend IN PERSON asap.

        Do it. Now. Just like walking. Go take a 30 minute walk and leave your cell phone at home. I dare you!

    2. Instead of keeping the phone glued to your ear, just clamp it between your knees.

  18. If cell phones do impact fertility, I wonder: can the damage be reversed once the cell phone is removed?

    1. Men create new sperm, so they’ll bounce back (though the effect on their testicles hasn’t been documented, from what I know). I do recall one case study where it permanently impacted one woman’s fertility.

      I’d say that for women, since they have all of the eggs they’ll ever make, it’d be an even greater problem. So better safe than sorry.

      Cell phones have been shown to create birth defects in the skeletons of rabbits exposed to cell radiation in the womb, so pregnant women should be cautious too (check out research from Gazi University in turkey)

  19. Girls, don’t put your phone in your jeans pocket. You’ve got ovaries right there!!!
    Jeez, and not in your bikini top or bra either.

  20. phew, so glad to know that it’s safe to stop wearing my “tin-foil codpiece”!

    Very informative post and I loved that you approached the topic with level-headedness and a bit of humor. I hate how the media can resort to near fear-mongering on these types of topics just so they feel like they presented a gripping story to their audience.

  21. at the rate people are spawning these days… I really don’t think we have too much to worry about.

    1. Good point! I have not read anyone say something like this.

      I mean, there are how many of us in the world? 6.5 billion? Soon to be 7 billion?

      If an individual wants to have a kid and they are not able to then they need to first change the way they eat and live. Live a primal lifestyle. If after a year there is no success then doing other little things like not having your cell phone in your pocket 24/7 might be a good idea.

      But, in the big scheme of things… we don’t have anything to worry about!

  22. I’ve always been wary of keeping anything that transmits radiation near my reproductive organs. Luckily, I usually don’t go anywhere without my backpack, so that’s where my phone always ends up during transit. I think females would have an easier time than males with this, simply because most men don’t carry bags or satchels with them. The backpack is a nice solution, though, being able to stash all my food and necessities for the day certainly eliminates chances for deviation.

  23. If Hollywood is to be believed, irradiated sperm might be a good thing.

    I for one, look forward to the forthcoming generation of superheroes.

  24. I’m too Primal for a cell phone. I need my senses. I want to know when there’s something in the bushes or crawling above my head. Cell phones had only a negative impact on my quality of life when I used them. I don’t care what you and your friend had for dinner, I’m busy playing. And if I’m hiding in a tree or studying local fauna, I don’t want an ungodly distraction composed of stupid questions or funny pictures bothering my concentration. I prefer thinking over staring at my moving thumbs. Land line is sufficient.

    1. Amen to that! Too many zombies walking around texting instead of paying attention to where they are going! Got rid of mine over a year ago and realized just how much I didn’t need it!

  25. Guys get over the whole ‘man bag’ issue please. It’s a bag. It’s functional. It holds what it needs to. What could be more Primal?

    1. A bag made from the pelt of a deer you speared yourself.

      I keep my things, including my cell phone, in a watertight box. It fits in whatever pack I am using and keeps the electronics out of the rain when I am walking to work.

  26. What about the radiation coming out of this laptop on my thighs? Is that the same cellphone radiation?

  27. people of zee wurld…relax. eat primal, move frequently at a slow pace…and relax!

  28. Someone mentioned how European cell phone usage is ahead and above ours here in the States. I’d just like to add that the population in Europe has been declining for the past twenty years. Correlation or causation? Correlation, I’m sure, but it does make you wonder…

  29. Have never been able to justify the expense of staying connected for the minisclue amounts of time I use the phone. I’ve been disconnected for the last two years, and before that I only got my iphone because well, it’s was an iphone. Before then I had no phone at all. Now it’s a glorified ipod and nothing more.

    Carrying a phone everywhere is nothing short of a pain in the arse, and nothing is so important that I need to be contactable 24/7.

    Ditch the phone I say, it’s just a modern ball and chain. It’s hilarious (to me anyway) to see people basically fail to funtion without one.

  30. There has also been some research that showed decreased bone density in the hip on the side that men carried their cell phones. It was published in the Journal of Craniofacial Surgery in 2009, which makes you go, “Huh? craniofacial surgery? What’s the connection?” Turns out, bone grafts for such things are taken from the area of the hip/pelvis that is of interest.

  31. I think I’m more afraid of soy products than cell phones.

    Considering that we’re exposed to all sorts of things flying through the air, it’s hard to really stress about it.

  32. Huh, maybe i should stop putting my phone on my nightstand when i go to bed (i use the phone as an alarm)…

    How close does the phone have to be to have an effect?

  33. I just got my husband a shoulder holster for his cell phone for Father’s Day. It looks just like one you would carry you firearm in, but it’s for your electronic devices. Really got it more as kind of a joke, but maybe it was a good idea!

  34. I wonder if they took into account the size of a rabbit compared to the size of the cell phone compared to the size of a human…..because size does matter.

  35. As a sufferer of occasional cluster headaches and migraines, the idea of getting brain cancer is a nightmare scenario for me. Just what I need, more pain in my head, plus it’s pain that will kill me. Not a lot of people survive that kind of cancer. Contrast this with all the scaremongering around breast cancer, which has a high survival rate.

    I’m not as worried about fertility because I’m not sure I want more kids. I still carry my phone in my pocket because I have an irrational fear of losing it. (Dunno why–I have an insurance policy on it. For five bucks a month I really should fret less.) But if cancer can be induced through one’s skull (albeit an area of the skull where there are openings–neurologists find brain cancer on the same side/in the same area of the head as where the cell phone’s spent a lot of time!), it’s not hard to imagine it being induced through no bone cover at all. And lady-bits cancer is pretty much as un-fun as brain cancer is. So I should probably rethink this. I need a new purse anyway. Mine’s about dead.

    Pierre: I’m given to understand (and I could be wrong) that the radiation emitted by wifi is either very close to or the same as the radiation a cell phone puts off. So if you are worried about sperm count, don’t sit there with nothing shielding your lap from your laptop. You really shouldn’t anyway; they get hot! But definitely if you’re trying to protect your fertility.

    Stuff that emits radiation probably shouldn’t spend a lot of time anywhere near your head, either. I do not have a fancy electronic alarm clock, just a tiny little battery-powered travel one. I’ve thought about getting a wind-up clock and doing away with the electricity question entirely because I like white noise when I’m sleeping–haven’t made up my mind about that one yet.

    For those few out there who still use landlines (I’d like to get back to that again but it’s not feasible right now for reasons too complicated to get into), the same problems exist with cordless phones. If you’re going to use one, DON’T keep it in the bedroom next to your bed, or anywhere else that it’ll be frying your body for hours at a time.

    Also, when it comes to carrying your phone, the choices are not “fry your man bits or carry a purse.” Tim Ferris wrote about this in his latest book–he uses an arm strap. It’s another option if you REALLY don’t want to carry a bag, plus it looks cool. 🙂

    AND, you have one more option. If you MUST carry your phone in your pocket because there just isn’t any other way, turn it off. If your phone is not trying to grab a signal, it’s not putting off radiation. Problem solved. I mean, do you really need to be available 24/7 for whatever joker desperately needs to call you at the dinner table? Bet you’re not allowed to use your phone at work, either, unless you work in sales. Well, there you go…

  36. Isn’t science just great? The minute it starts to prove inconvenient facts contrary to your financial interests just stop doing science and you’re off the hook.

    Repeat the familiar “there are no scientific studies to prove that [your product] causes [negative health impact(s)]”

    Absence of evidence is evidence of absence, a remarkably effective process which got MSG, GM crops, and also cell phones approved for mass consumption.

    Yes, science is doing us great.

  37. If cell phone radiation can have a negative impact on fertility, you could expand that to the moment we started broadcasting radiowaves! We’re surrounded at all times by electromagnetic waves. The signal to your tv dish? Passing through you right now! This could explain the decline in sperm count; we’ve had a proverbial cell-phone next to our man-bits for 60+ years!

    1. The problem with cell phones is the proximity and duration of the signal. A radio tower broadcasts with more energy than a cell phone, but from farther away, so it is less of a health risk. With cell phones, the signal is broadcast right next to the body, so it would be a higher risk. Remember the inverse square law.

      1. Great points made, however the argument that we have been exposed to your proverbial cell phones for 60+ years is a terrible argument for proliferating electromagnetic radiation in our environment.

        That is like saying the nuclear testing of the 50s and 60s put radioisotopes in the atmosphere and we’re still here so therefore its alright to put more radionuclides in the atmosphere.

        This is where my point comes in that the ‘absence of evidence is evidence of absence’ is naive and ignorant. People assume many things are safe because no one has properly investigated these things but I believe I have good reason to be concerned and cautious. I have absolutely no reason to trust the authorities in charge of monitoring such matters concerning health, pollutants and the environment because they have been in dereliction of duty on countless occasions.

        The take home message for me is that you can never trust or believe anything unless you perceive it by your own account. I take as little as possible for granted and in the process experience a great degree of freedom in regulating my own life.

        Hope for the best, plan for the worst.

  38. Read this book for more in-depth info on this topic:

    Disconnect: The Truth About Cell Phone Radiation, What the Industry Has Done to Hide It, and How to Protect by Devra Davis

    I found this book to be riveting and I believe one day we will learn that cell phone companies are much like tobacco companies. They knew it all along, just commissioned dozens of studies to muddy the waters and confuse consumers.

    Did you know every cell phone manual says do not hold the phone closer than one inch to your body? That’s to protect them in lawsuits.

  39. Great article, as ever Mark!

    I’m a huge fan of the old ‘man bag’… a far better alternative to having wallet/keys/phone/primal snacks etc hanging out of my pockets!

    There’s a great article here about this recent cell phone research. It turns out that the GSM signal used in the UK is about 28 times more harmful to human health than the CDMA signal used by most American networks:

    The mis-conception is that as we’re surrounded by EMF waves constantly, cell phones don’t pose any new threat. This couldn’t be further from the truth! It’s not just the level of radiation that they emit (known as the SAR rating) – it’s the specific frequencies that these EMF signals operate at… one VERY destructive to human DNA. My thought is that we will start to see direct correlations between fertility problems and mobile phone use – because of course the standard 2G signal is no longer enough for most people. We have bolted on all sorts of radioactive additions; 3G, GPRS, GPS, Wi-Fi, HSDPA etc. The fact is, most of these popular ‘smart phones’ that kids are carrying around next to their special parts are not so smart… carrying one is now tantamount to having tens of wireless internet routers strapped to the body… a ‘virtual suicide bomb’, if you will.

    As society at large has become less primal and more dependent on these untested, unsafe devices to regulate their lives – it’s up to people like us, I guess, to show them not how bad cell phones really are – but how great it is to get back to our roots!

  40. I stopped carrying my cell phone in my pocket, per Tim Ferris’s advice, about 6 to 8 months ago. Let me tell you, it makes a large, noticeable, visual difference. I don’t even like carrying it in my back pocket but sometimes there’s just nowhere to put it.

  41. Thanks for a very well-balanced article, Mark, though almost none of the “studies” showing damage have been replicated by other groups. It’s hardly surprising since there’s no actual mechanism by which microwave radiation of that wavelength can cause damage to DNA. Turning up the power would just increase the heating effect, which is minuscule compared to that of the body, or indeed of the sunshine falling on it even on a cloudy day!

    As for Dr Devra Davis, who has been making a nice little packet out of crying “WOLF!”, she is not a physicist but a sociologist. She simply does not understand what she is talking about. Her tactics remind me of Ancel Keys… “cherry-picking’ data to support her case, while ignoring studies, no matter how strong, that refute it!

    1. Correction – she is an epidemiologist. Regardless, your science is outdated.

      DNA damage has been recorded by multiple sources, search Henry Lai, Wilhelm Mosgoeller, Santosh Kesari. – a list of pubs can be found in the references:

      Many of them from well-known journals, such as Brain Research.

      Also, Richard Stein, a physician researcher conducting basic biological research on the genome at Princeton University, posted a response to the “lack of mechanism” argument in SCcientific American.

      “Any environmental exposure can have 2 mechanisms of action: 1). direct, and 2). indirect. It is true that the energy of cell phone radiation cannot break DNA, the missing word in this article is *directly*. Thus, even the title is incorrect, “Physics” does not show that cell phones cannot cause cancer, it only shows that DNA breakage is not *direct*.

      What about the *indirect* effects of cell phone radiation? About 6 different research groups have independently shown that DNA breakage occurs after cell phone radiation, and among some of the mechanisms implicated are 1). generation of reactive oxygen species, 2). protein phosphorylation, 3). cell cycle perturbations, 4). protein expression changes, particularly that of Hsp70 heat shock proteins. Yes, they even know the mechanisms! ”

      Would love your input.

  42. Archie, according to the UK Department of Health ‘Mobile Phone Safety’ publications – there are clear negative effects of low wavelength radiation on the human body, as confirmed by the rising incidence of malignant brain tumors on the phone-bearing side of the head (UK), lower bone-density findings on the phone-carrying hip, as well as countless individuals across the world who report complex symptoms of nausea, pain, headaches etc. The thing is – science can’t understand how this low-frequency mechanism works, due to, (and I quote) “gaps in our current scientific knowledge”. As one comment earlier suggested – becuase we don’t currently have the research to understand how something works, does not mean that the process isn’t still occurring. We did not understand electricity for millions of years, but it was still operating efficiently, regardless of our lack of understanding of it. As for your comment:

    “It’s hardly surprising since there’s no actual mechanism by which microwave radiation of that wavelength can cause damage to DNA. Turning up the power would just increase the heating effect, which is minuscule compared to that of the body, or indeed of the sunshine falling on it even on a cloudy day!”

    With all good intention, I’d love to hear about the extensive research you have personally conducted to come to that surprising conclusion – as it seems to fly in the face of current, large-scale thought. (Like that of the 14 world scientists who have just published their findings to this effect via the WHO!).

  43. This is why I have my son wear painter’s pants and put is phone in the knee pocket rather than my future grandchildren pocket.

  44. So in conclusion, we should find that people living around high watt radio and television antennas, and cell towers are dropping like flies from cancer and tumors?

    People who radios daily for work, like taxi dispatchers, police, ambulance, ham radio ethusiasts and lots of others.

    I just don’t see it.

    Sounds like more junk science to replace the fear of people living near power lines. Truth is your TV gives off more magnetic resonance than the power lines.

  45. What about airplane mode when not in use… Does that help?

  46. Ditch the phone sometimes. Not only does it remove stress, but it isn’t primal for us to carry them like they are apart of us. Not to mention we are surrounded by 90 other cell phones from other people.