The World Health Organization has classified radiofrequency electromagnetic fields as possibly carcinogenic to humans. Research has demonstrated that users of cell phones, of which there are now 5 billion globally, show an increased risk of glioma (a malignant form of brain cancer) and acoustic neuroma. One study found that the heaviest users–talking 30 min/day for ten years–had a 40% increased risk of gliomas.
Archive for the ‘Cell Phones’ Category
I first learned of the risks associated with cell phone use in November 2010. Lately I’ve been seeing magazine articles and reports like this one from NPR and I’m glad to know this information is becoming more public. Will it be enough to change users’ habits or the industry? Time will tell. I have certainly changed my cell phone use. I no longer leave it on unless I’m using it. When I do use it, it’s for short conversations only and I keep it on speaker phone. I tell everyone to call me at home or email me. In fact, my use is so scant that my husband recently asked if I just wanted to cancel my service altogether. I’m not sure if I’ve reduced my brain cancer risk with this behavior change, but I will tell you one thing is certain–I no longer get the headaches I got after long conversations on my cell phone.
I’ve now read in two places (one of them being this book, the other being a magazine article) that baby monitors emit radio frequency radiation similar to that of cell phones. In fact, the Women’s Health article claims that monitors emit more than cell phones do. Now granted, you don’t hold the monitor next to your head while using it, but the effects of this type of radiation on developing baby brains is unknown. I’m not taking any risks. We have stopped using baby monitors in our house and after several months, are doing just fine without them. If you must use one, place the base as far away from your child as possible.
In April 2011, France will be the first country to require merchants to inform customers of radiation levels emitted by their phones at the point of sale. The Specific Absorption Rate (SAR) of phones will be clearly posted, all phones will come with headsets, and advertisements directed at children 14 and under will be banned. San Francisco tried to pass something similar last summer, but of course it is being challenged by the wireless industry.
Up until a few months ago, I literally had no idea that cell phones posed any risk whatsoever to myself or my family. This is unfortunate, because while the science does not clearly prove the risk of cell phone use, there are some unsettling studies that show that the radiation emitted from a cell phone while in use can damage DNA, break down the blood-brain barrier (making the brain susceptible to whatever toxins or drugs are circulating in the blood), damage sperm, and unleash free radicals in the body. Some studies suggest that cell phone use increases the incidence of brain tumors and various cancers, often on the side of the head where the phone was used most. But because cell phones are relatively new and because use, at least in the U.S., has been taking place for a relatively short time, the full effects of this radiation remain to be seen. The state of Maine has considered placing the following warning on all cell phones, much like each box of ciggarettes contains a warning: ”This device emits electromagnetic radiation, exposure to which may cause brain cancer. Users, especially pregnant women and children, should keep away from the head and body.” Would such a warning cause Americans to stop buying cell phones? Highly unlikely. But perhaps it would draw awareness and caution to the use of wireless phones and would encourage the production of safer phones. Continue reading »
Sometimes I feel that everywhere I turn, there is another component to modern life that is a serious health risk. Just when I think I’ve minimized most of the dangers in my home–plastics, VOCs, BPA, phthalates, pesticides, PFOA’s–then another one crops up–prescription drugs in our drinking water, BPA in receipts, and now DNA-altering radiation from cell phones.
I can understand why in the rush to get new technologies to market that make our lives easier, companies wouldn’t slow down to properly examine the health consequences. But when cell phones emit radiation pretty similar to that which your microwave emits, yet you are not protected from it by a metal box, shouldn’t more scientists be testing the safety of cell phones? And when most cell phone manuals come with instructions to not hold the phone directly on your body, say right up next to your head when you’re using it or right next to your leg in your pocket, then why aren’t more consumers asking questions and demanding safer phones?