Listen up men: A study suggests that Wi-Fi may be taking a toll on the quality of your sperm.
In the study conducted by Conrado Avendano of Nascentis Medicina Reproductiva, the sperm of 29 healthy adult men was divided into two groups: One half were put in petri dishes under a laptop computer attached to Wi-Fi for four hours; the other half were kept far away from any computer for the same amount of time.
The finding? The sperm under the Wi-Fi connection was heavily impacted, suffering a significant loss of "motility" -- its ability to swim -- which is necessary to reach an egg and fertilize it. In addition, significantly more DNA was damaged in the Wi-Fi sample than the non-exposed sperm, the study found.
"Our data suggest that the use of a laptop computer wirelessly connected to the Internet and positioned near the male reproductive organs may decrease human sperm quality," Avendano and his associates wrote in the report. "At present we do not know whether this effect is induced by all laptop computers connected by Wi-Fi to the Internet or what use conditions heighten this effect. The mechanisms involved in mediating the decrease in sperm motility and DNA integrity also need further study."
Dr. Craig Niederberger, co-editor-in-chief of the Journal of Fertility and Sterility, which published the study, told HLN there are caveats. First, the study’s sample was very small and its duration short. The study's authors, he cautions, “are not saying that electromagnetic radiation emitted by computers on Wi-Fi definitely damage sperm. They're saying it might."
Niederberger, head of the Department of Urology at the University of Illinois at Chicago, says similar results have been found from studies of cell phone radiation in close proximity to sperm. As for this study, Niederberger says it's a "shot across the bow" -- a warning that further studies are needed.
Dr. Robert Oates, president of the Society for Male Reproduction and Urology, told Reuters that laptops do not pose a big threat. He added that the study is "not real-life biology, this is a completely artificial setting. It is scientifically interesting, but to me it doesn't have any human biological relevance."
Wi-Fi and children
What gets the attention of so many parents is that our children are now using Wi-Fi in school. And, as CNN’s Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta reported in his recent documentary "Toxic Childhood," children’s bodies generally have less ability to protect themselves from toxic elements in our environment than the bodies of adults.
And in this recent CNN story about the growing concern that holding cell phones against your ears too often could cause brain tumors, Gupta notes that children's skulls are thinner than grownups'. Gupta, a practicing neurosurgeon, takes the simple step of using a wired earpiece when he speaks on his cell -- and says he will require it of his three children.
So what should we do doctor?
Niederberger, who has two daughters, said he would tell girls that he's not worried about laptops and their health because the ovaries are hidden deeper inside the body, which likely means the eggs are better protected than a post-puberty boy's scrotum is of his sperm. As for boys? The doctor said, even without a greater body of evidence, he would advise them to not give up the laptop entirely, just "don't put it on your lap."