Azara Blog: A silly anti-mobile-phone health study

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Date published: 2006/10/24

The BBC says:

Heavy use of mobile phones may damage men's fertility, a study has suggested.

Researchers found those men who used a phone for four hours or more a day had fewer sperm and those they had moved less well and were of poorer quality.

The Ohio study involving 364 men was presented to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine in New Orleans.

But a UK expert said it was unlikely the phones were to blame, as they were in use and not near the testes, and it may be being sedentary was the cause.
...
Dr Ashok Agarwal, who led the research, told the New Orleans conference the study did not prove mobiles damaged fertility, but said it showed more research was warranted.
...
But a British expert cast doubt on the suggested link between mobile phone use and infertility in the men studied.

Dr Allan Pacey, senior lecturer in andrology at the University of Sheffield, said: "This is a good study, but I don't think it tackles the issue.

"If you're using your phone for four hours a day, presumably it is out of your pocket for longer.

"That raises a big question: how is it that testicular damage is supposed to occur?"

Dr Pacey, who is honorary secretary of the British Fertility Society, added: "If you are holding it up to your head to speak a lot, it makes no sense that it is having a direct effect on your testes."

He added that people who use phones for longer might be more sedentary, more stressed or eat more junk food, which might be more likely explanations for the link found in the study.

Seemingly a classic confusion of correlation and causation. The idea these days seems to be to study anything (e.g. mobile phone use) which the anti-technology brigade hate, then look for correlations with anything and everything that is deemed to be negative (e.g. low sperm count, too much beer drinking, or whatever) and hope that one of the correlations pays off and hey presto, a "proof" that the technology is harmful. Why this kind of junk research is funded is hard to fathom.

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