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According to this article supposedly keeping your smartphone in the front pocket can cause infertility in men.

According to Lilly Friedman, MD, this is actually the worst place to store your cell phone. “When cell phones are on, connected to a wireless network, and placed in a pocket, the radiation is two to seven times higher than if it were placed in a purse or holster,” she says.

Plus, radiation can change the structure of DNA and affect male fertility,

She didn't provide any reference so it seems more like an opinion. Was there any studies done on men's infertility for those who carry phones like this?

I don't know where else can anyone comfortable carry their phone if not in the front pocket.

Note: I know there is a similar question already asked but that was in 2011 and at that time hardly many people had smartphones. Plus more studies might have been done.

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    Does this answer your question? Does the presence of a cellphone affect sperm count or heart rate?
    – Joe W
    Nov 9, 2022 at 18:30
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    @JoeW, my question is different though. The lower sperm count doesn't necessarily mean infertility.
    – Grasper
    Nov 9, 2022 at 19:23
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    I have to reject the idea that "hardly anyone" had phones carried in pockets in 2011. 1.5 billion (with a b!) mobile phones were sold that year alone.
    – Oddthinking
    Nov 9, 2022 at 21:54
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    Re I don't know where else can anyone comfortable carry their phone if not in the front pocket. A lot of women carry their cellphones in their purses rather than their front pockets. (Their clothing oftentimes does not even have pockets.) That said not many males carry purses. We might carry backpacks or briefcases, but not all day long. BTW, my cellphone is in my front pocket right now. Nov 10, 2022 at 3:20
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    @RedSonja, I was mostly talking about men.
    – Grasper
    Nov 10, 2022 at 14:12

1 Answer 1

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The article provides no evidence for the claim.

While there is some evidence linking cell phones to specific types of cancer, her claim that putting your phone in your pocket puts you at higher risk is a non-sequitur, and the FDA agrees about the lack of evidence.

The authors of her referenced paper state...

...these findings should not be directly extrapolated to human cell phone usage.

The FDA states that...

To date, there is no consistent or credible scientific evidence of health problems caused by the exposure to radio frequency energy emitted by cell phones

They cite Review of Published Literature between 2008 and 2018 of Relevance to Radiofrequency Radiation and Cancer.

Who is "Lilly Friedman, MD"?

The referenced article is a cut & paste, with minor edits and mistakes.

The original article was by Lily Friedman, MC, a Doctor of Chiropractic Medicine at Comprehensive Wellness Institute which she owns. Chiropractors are not MDs (Doctor of Medicine), but MCs (Doctor of Chiropractic). They're also generally not cancer experts.

What does she claim?

She claims that "when cell phones are on, connected to wireless network, and placed in a pocket, the radiation is 2-7 times higher than if it were placed in a purse or holster" nor that "radiation can change the structure of DNA and affect male fertility", but provides no sources for these claims.

"Radiation" is so vague to be meaningless. When most people hear "radiation" they think ionizing radiation, very high energies which can strip electrons from molecules associated with nuclear power. However, sunlight, microwaves, heat, and radio waves are all lower energy "radiation".

She provides a source for one claim that "there is a direct correlation between the radiation from a cell phone and tumor growth" which we'll go into below.

Most importantly, she provides no connection between her claims and her conclusions.

What does the paper actually say?

Dr. Friedman references a Scientific American article Major Cell Phone Radiation Study Reignites Cancer Questions which is about a report from the National Toxicology Program. Here is a handy summary.

The report does find an increase of 1% to 3% in specific tumors in rats exposed to 2G and 3G radiation over their entire bodies for their entire lives.

The FDA takes issue with attempting to relate this to public health...

The conclusions relating to public health risks reached by the FDA’s scientists differ from those of the NTP, and the FDA determination is that the study did not demonstrate that cell phones cause cancer.

5 Facts About the Rat Study

  1. Rats received radiation over their entire bodies.
  2. Rats received this whole-body radiation for 9 hours per day for their entire lives.
  3. Rats received levels of radiation that were up to 75 times higher than the whole-body exposure limit for people.
  4. The study found no health effects on female rats or mice (both male and female) exposed to these extreme conditions that passed a test for statistical significance.
  5. Exposed rats lived longer than the control group rats.

The design did not reflect the partial-body radio frequency exposure people receive from cell phone use and as noted by the NTP in their February 2018 press release:

"The levels and duration of exposure to RFR were much greater than what people experience with even the highest level of cell phone use and exposed the rodents’ whole bodies. So, these findings should not be directly extrapolated to human cell phone usage."

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    I think the claim that "radiation can change the structure of DNA and affect male fertility" is very well established and needs no further citation. Note that this does not claim "radiation from cell phones", but "radiation" in general, which includes ionizing radiation. Could be misleading though to conflate cell phone radiation with ionizing radiation.
    – laolux
    Nov 10, 2022 at 0:27
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    @laolux: "Radiation" without further qualification is so broad as to be a meaningless claim. Nov 10, 2022 at 2:24
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    "Radiation" is such a scary word because many people associate it with ionizing radiation, and don't know the difference. But visible light is also the same electromagnetic radiation as gamma rays, x-rays and microwaves, just with a different frequency. However, those who practice alternative medicine and want to scare people, are eager to jump on the bandwagon of "radiation = scary"
    – vsz
    Nov 10, 2022 at 7:26
  • Radiation (such as sunlight) can cause cancer! I agree that the term "radiation" is of no use in this claim.
    – GEdgar
    Nov 10, 2022 at 16:41
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    Thanks all, I've done an edit to explain "radiation".
    – Schwern
    Nov 10, 2022 at 18:24

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