Electromagnetic Fields (EMFs) and Radiation (RF EMR) vs. Western infertility epidemic

Mass infertility: a sign of the times?

Dramatic decline in male fertility may be a product of modernity

As published on the health and wellness ideas and information portal: Natural Blaze

Modern living can be a real drag, particularly if you’re a sperm cell it seems. In July came news of the publication of a scientific review that appeared to confirm the suspicions of many a soothsayer down the ages. Verily, the seed of human existence looks to be drying up.
According to study authors at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, sperm counts and concentration figures in the West have halved since the early 70s, and continue to fall at an alarming rate. Might the baron dystopia of intergenerational fruitlessness, foretold by many a cackling witch down the ages, indeed be just around the corner?

As the news broke, Edinburgh University’s Professor Richard Sharpe was on hand to reassure us that “the end of humanity is not approaching”. Alas, those of the Sir David Attenborough (“we are a plague on earth”) school, quick to cheer the report, may have been a little premature in rejoicing. A substantially depopulated planet may not, in fact, be right around the corner and mankind’s fate is far from sealed.

Rather disconcertingly, however, the professor added: “we have no idea about what is the cause of the condition” and “we cannot remedy it”. Knowledge of male fertility problems does remain patchy on the whole; but this is not to say we have no clue as to what’s going on, far from it. Whilst some in the field may still be firing blanks, others feel that they have already reached satisfactory conclusions.

There exists a significant, growing body of robust research we may look to for signs of credible causes. In truth, one doesn’t have to be a reproductive health expert to fathom, then, what may at least partially underlie the recent decline in male fertility.

Whatever select specialists may be willing to venture, on the record, about what they know, or how convincing they find the existing evidence, the picture that emerges from the literature is pretty clear. Contrary to the dismissive pronouncements of certain on-message establishment figures (who shan’t be named), in reality we are unlikely to have to wait another generation to be in a position to pinpoint some of the main culprits. Better still, the prime suspect is close at hand, and we have it in our grasp to do something about it.

As it happens, the elephant in the room is actually in your pocket. That’s right guys, we’ve more than likely done this to ourselves. Irradiating intimate areas with radiofrequency (or ‘wireless’) transmission devices – like mobile phones, tablets, and laptops – has been repeatedly shown to be bad news for delicate reproductive cells and anatomy. Turns out microwaving your balls may be harmful. Who’d have known?

According to Dr. Joel Moskowitz of the University of California, Berkeley, “we have considerable evidence that cell phone radiation damages sperm and is associated with male infertility”. The Director of the Center for Family and Community Health at Berkley’s School of Public Health has further cautioned in recent months that it appears female fertility may also be adversely affected.

The link is consistent with the observation that Western men are the only major demographic group known to have experienced such a stark transformation. Of course, this could well be a function of other shifting cultural phenomena but it’s becoming increasingly difficult to discount the possibility that early adoption of wireless consumer tech has played a role. Any which way you look at it, growing male infertility in the West is plausibly the very definition of a ‘modern disease’.

Besides recent replicated study findings linking radiofrequency radiation (RFR) exposure to impaired male fertility, scientists have known for decades that even relatively low power intensity microwaves can disturb finely tuned, sensitive biological systems in sometimes subtle and insidious ways.

This is not, however, to say that RFR represents the primary determinant of the emergent fertility crisis, or indeed that biomedical science is close to having the precise role of any lifestyle-linked risk factor all sewn up.

Clearly, there remains plenty of further investigative research to be done in this most sensitive of areas, and a number of other contemporary thematics must also be borne in mind. These include a role for: stress, diet, body weight, temperature of the testes, and both voluntary behavioural and involuntary environmental exposure to endocrine disruptors (e.g. pharmaceuticals, drugs, alcohol, and other chemical pollutants).

For many, the jury’s still out on the effects of RFR, but few by now can deny the rationale for a precautionary approach, in view of the emerging evidence. If we act now, both as individuals and as a society, then countless couples may be spared the ordeal of having to pursue invasive, by no means guaranteed, and increasingly restricted assisted reproductive treatments in the future. All that’s required is that we’re willing to accept the mother of all inconvenient truths: that the gizmos and gadgets we’re all glued to may not just prove a barrier to truly living life in the present but also get in the way of life (rather less figuratively) going forward.

Pills Pills Pills: Over-Medicating, Depression, and Heart Ache

It's not every day that integrative health practitioners, independent of industry interests, are vindicated in urging the application of the precautionary principle by mainstream health research, but today is just such a day!

1. A large scale epidemiological study has revealed that the birth control pill* is associated with a doubling of the risk of depressive mental health problems

2. Another study illustrates one of a number of nascent harms associated with long-term administration of pain medication (in this case ibuprofen**)

* Caused long-lasting hypertensive dysautonomia and a series of highly painful and disruptive ovarian cysts, in the experience of a friend of mine

** Responsible for abdominal inflammation/convulsions in my case (and known to irritate the gut)

UK Sugar Tax

A new levy is set to come into force in the UK in 2018 on ‘soft drinks' that are not pure fruit or milk-based and contain concentrations of sugar >5g/100ml e.g. fizzy/carbonated drinks in particular

The policy announcement comes in response to related interventions by senior health care professionals/public figures, and is pitched at helping to combat major, life threatening public health issues linked to sugar consumption e.g. obesity, diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and Alzheimer's

Improving child health and vitality is the primary objective of the initiative and, in England, proceeds from the tax are to be invested in increasing sporting participation at primary schools

Laudable as the aims may be, unfortunately the paternalistic measure has come in for a lot of criticism, for example concerning the fact that:

UK Plastic Bag Levy

This is a subject close to my heart as someone who cares a great deal about the environment, and has studied the economics of the environment and centred his undergraduate Economics degree dissertation on the topic of Green Behaviour and Behavioural Change'

My sense is that whilst the policy may initially strike many Englishmen as being somewhat of a paternalistic nuisance, and the levy may seem relatively insignificant in pecuniary terms, this policy is the right move; the effect has been generally positive in terms of normative and behavioural change in the rest of the UK - where levies have already been introduced (e.g. 72% reduction in plastic bag usage in Wales in the past 4 years) thanks, presumably, to both direct (financial disincentive) and indirect (market signalling, nudge) effects

What I would like to see is the levy imposed across the spectrum (not just to larger retailers) and increased (from 5p to perhaps 10p/20p), and at least a proportion of it go to environmental causes e.g. green behaviour change initiatives in particular. I would also like to see action taken Europe-wide, and in TROTW - in time, as the problem of plastic pollution e.g. of the oceans, is of course - like so many of the environmental challenges we face today - a global one

New name/diagnostic for ME/CFS: SEID

New criteria for Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME/CFS) were outlined earlier this year, when The Institute of Medicine (IOM) - an independent US health think tank - presented a comprehensive report on the condition, also recommending that it be renamed: Systemic Exertion Intolerance Disease (SEID)

Under the proposed criteria, at least 4 of the following 5 core symptoms (edited for brevity) must apply in order for one to receive a positive diagnosis:

◦ Fatigue + reduction in activity *
Post exertional malaise (PEM)**
Unrefreshing sleep

Cognitive impairment OR
Orthostatic intolerance (OI) ***

* Substantial and persisting for over 6 months, not the result of ongoing excessive exertion, and not substantially alleviated by rest
** A worsening of some symptoms e.g. typically including pain/fatigue, in the 12-48+ hours following exertion
*** Irregularities in blood pressure/heart rate regulation, associated with being upright and stationary, and in the context of low blood volume

This is an interesting, long overdue development in a sensitive/somewhat controversial area (diagnosis/nomenclature) relating to a sensitive/somewhat controversial topic (an ‘invisible illness' about which there has historically been much ‘confusion' in the media/medical profession)

The focus on the objectively demonstrated physiological dysfunction (PEM) that is essentially unique to this condition is welcome, insofar as it helps to underline the fact that it is a very real, and disruptive, disease, and to differentiate it from chronic fatigue more broadly, as well as other illnesses (e.g. depressive/sleep disorders), which may bear similarities to ME/CFS but ought not to be confused with it

Contrarily, it is perhaps unhelpful insofar as it does not explicitly incorporate the core pathology of the disease which is, fairly irrefutably, inflammation of the central nervous system

Link: ME Association Article

Good News for ME!

In it's phase 2 trial in Norway, the anti cancer drug Rituximab appears to have delivered markedly positive outcomes in as many as two thirds of cases. This offers hope both those of us who have the enigmatic, and to-date incurable, neurological condition ME/CFS (aka ‘M.E.', ‘CFS', ‘SEID'). It also further underscores the belief held by researchers such as myself that the condition may be linked to insidious self-harming effects of certain immune agents (B-lymphocytes and their CNS glial equivalents)

Having said all of that, trials elsewhere are not all finding the drug to be terribly effective, particularly once maintenance doses are stopped

Link: ME Association news item