Science is always being updated

The thing about science and scientific proof is that it is ever-evolving. Radiation from cell phones can possibly cause cancer, announced the World Health Organization (WHO) in 2011, adding mobile phone use to the same “carcinogenic hazard” category as lead, engine exhaust, and chloroform. Yet prior to this significant addition, WHO had assured consumers that no adverse health effects were established (CNN, 2011). Dr. Keith Black, chairman of neurology at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in LA points out that “the biggest problem we have is that we know most environmental factors take several decades of exposure before we really see the consequences.”

Cellphone radiation health risks

The microwave radiation coming out of a cell phone is non-ionizing—not as dangerous as an X-ray, but more along the lines of a low-powered microwave oven. In simple terms, microwave radiation has a similar effect on our brains as a microwave oven does on food: it cooks. In addition to the possibility of cancer and tumours, cognitive memory function may be compromised, since we hold our phones next to our memory temporal lobes. Results from the largest international study on cell phones and cancer was released in 2010, and showed participants who used a cell phone for 10+ years had double the rate of brain glioma, a type of tumour.

Public awareness and safety tips

“I think it is a good idea to give the public some sort of warning that long-term exposure to radiation from your cell phone could possibly cause cancer,” said research professor Dr. Henry Lai (CNN, 2011). Indeed, warnings are the first step. BlackBerry Bold warns users to “keep the BlackBerry device at least 25 mm from your body when [it is] transmitting.” The further away the phone is, the less radiation is absorbed. The use of speakerphone functions or wired earpieces can also help, as can texting instead of talking. Cell phones also emit the most radiation when they are attempting to connect to cell towers, so a phone in an area with a weak signal is potentially more hazardous.

 

References:

Dellorto, D. (2011). “WHO: Cell phone use can increase possible cancer risk”. CNN. Retrieved from: http://www.cnn.com/2011/HEALTH/05/31/who.cell.phones/index.html

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