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Silver-lined underwear promises to save your sperm

A French-American company at CES says its Faraday Cage underwear will help protect male fertility from the potentially damaging effects of cell phone radiation.

Throughout the years that I've written about the potential health hazards of cell phone radiation, I've seen a lot of products promise protection from the radiofrequency (RF) signals that our wireless devices emit. They've ranged from the useless gold-lined radiation "shields" to Pong's more respectable line of phones cases that promise to refocus RF energy away from your head.

At CES 2018, a company called Spartan grabbed that promise of protection and took it below the belt with a line of men's underwear. Spartan's boxer briefs claim to block 99 percent of cellphone and Wi-Fi radiation with pure silver fibers woven into the cotton fabric. As the company puts it, the boxer briefs are a Faraday Cage for your private parts.

spartan-radation-underwear
Spartan

Though you may be envisioning a tinfoil hat in an underwear form, Spartan says its antibacterial briefs are designed in Paris and have a comfortable fit in black and blue designs. And don't worry about those silver fabrics buzzing an airport metal detector -- Spartan says that won't happen.

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That Spartan is focused on protecting your balls is significant. Though brain cancer tends to dominate the debate over whether wireless signals are safe, other studies have suggested that cell phones decrease male fertility. Some health advocates who have long been involved with the debate, and even some government agencies (most recently, the California Department of Public Health), recommend that men not carry their phones in a pants pocket to reduce radiation exposure to your nether regions.

Sparta's product steps in for those periods when carrying your phone elsewhere isn't an option. You'll just have to pay 42 euros per brief (roughly $50, £37, AU$54) for the ease-of-mind. (The per-brief price drops if you buy several briefs at once.)

Whether you should follow recommendations for reducing exposure depends on your comfort level. There's no scientific consensus as of yet whether wireless radiation is dangerous, and we may never know for sure. If the potential danger concerns you, most of the typical recommendations like using a headset, texting instead of making a call (a lot of us already do that) and not sleeping with your phone don't cost a penny. Sparta's briefs costs more than a few of them, but maybe you'll get a pair of shorts you like in the process. 

CES 2018: Complete coverage of the world's biggest technology show from CNET.

The coolest new gadgets at CES 2018: Here are the best new announcements we've seen so far.