Everywhere you look, you see people glued to their cell phones – playgrounds, supermarkets, walking down the street, basically anywhere and everywhere. Over the weekend, while I was sitting at a road construction roadblock, I conducted a not-so-scientific social experiment and counted 10 cars that passed me, nine of which were driven by people talking on their cell phones. Too much of anything though is cause for question and in this case, the debate around the safety of cell phone usage continues.
And the debate becomes even further intensified when a group like The World Health Organization (WHO)/International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) releases findings linking excessive mobile phone usage to an increased risk for glioma which is a malignant type of brain cancer. A Working Group consisting of 31 scientists from 14 countries spent the last week in France to make assessments on the carcinogenic risks from exposure to radio frequency electromagnetic fields and officially released its findings yesterday.
The Working Group is not firmly stating that cell phones indeed cause cancer, but the announcement quotes Dr. Jonathan Samet, chairman of the Working Group as saying, “The evidence, while still accumulating, is strong enough to support a conclusion and the 2B classification. The conclusion means that there could be some risk, and therefore we need to keep a close watch for a link between cell phones and cancer risk.”
Furthermore, while there is no public mandate banning cell phones (yet), the Working Group did point to a past research study finding a 40 percent increased risk for gliomas among heavy users, which is considered as people using their phones for 30+ minutes per day for 10+ years.
This should be particularly concerning to parents whose kids are being exposed to these signals at a much younger age than we ever were. We balk now at parents from past generations who smoked while pregnant, not because they intended any harm, but because they just didn’t know. And I always say that there’s going to be some health issue when our kids are older and they ask us something like, “You held cell phones to your ears???” with as much incredulity as we asked older generations, “You smoked when you were pregnant???” We simply don’t know all the hazards, but with mounting evidence, it’s time to consider mitigating the risks as much as possible.
In a recent post, I interviewed, Dr. Ann Louise Gittleman, author of Zapped: Why Your Cell Phone Shouldn’t Be Your Alarm Clock and 1,268 Ways to Outsmart the Hazards of Electromagnetic Pollution. She also pointed to telling research on the detrimental effects of over usage of cell phones, especially when it comes to kids and offered the following advice:
- Limit the frequency and length of calls to about two minutes max.
- Let your fingers do the talking with texting instead.
- If you cannot use the speaker mode, than consider an air tube headset which is non-conductive.
- Avoid making calls in cars, elevators, trains, and buses. The cell phone works harder to get a signal out through metal, so the power level increases. Any metal container like the car or elevator will also cause the waves to bounce around boosting their intensity.
- Keep an eye out of the bars. Don't use your cell phone when the signal is weak or when you are traveling at higher speeds in a car or train; this automatically boosts the power to maximum as the phone attempts to connect to a new relay antenna.
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