How Dangerous is Your Cell Phone?

Cell Phone Radiation, Cell Phone Protection

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By Debbie Cohen
Everyone has one, whether it is a smart phone or a small Motorola. Cell phones offer convenience, a way to stay connected to family and friends, along with added security in the event of an emergency. But, could there be a danger hiding in your phone?
Cell phones emit radiofrequency (RF) radiation and several past studies have proved this can be a known carcinogen and can cause tumors.

Cell phones emit two types of electro-magnetic fields (EMF); microwaves from the antenna and extremely-low fields (ELF) from the body of the phone, which is the radiofrequency type of radiation.

Recently, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), a component of the World Health Organization, has classified radiofrequency fields as “possibly carcinogenic to humans.” Several international studies show that there is a link between brain and salivary gland cancer with increased cell phone use. But according to the World Health Organization more long-term health studies need to be conducted.

Scientist Dr. Martin Blank, associate professor of physiology and cellular biophysics at Columbia University in Manhattan has been researching electro-magnetic fields (EMF) for over 25 years.
“Our body reacts to EMF as potentially harmful,” Blank told The Christian Post. “The accepted safe level for RF range is 0.4W/kg and most public exposure levels of cell towers and antennas are at 0.8W/kg based on a SAR (specific absorption rate) of 4W/kg as the level at which adverse effects are said to be determined.”

Yet, there are other opinions within the cellular industry depicting that RF radiation levels are below the dangers levels. Dan Collins, chief technical officer from the Pinnacle Telecom Group, a New Jersey based independent firm providing technical services nationwide to the telecommunications industry said that all cell towers and cell phones comply with FCC regulations.

“The latest reports from the World Health Organization are inclusive and a lot more research has to be done about any carcinogenic effects from cell phones or antennas,” Collins explained to The Christian Post. “SAR rates are higher in smart phones, but we do not know if that is harmful. There are 4-5 billion cell phone users worldwide and smart phones just came out in the market, so we do not have all the data yet on these devices. We would need over 10 years to really look into any harmful effects from this technology.”

Dr. George Carlo, a public health scientist and founder of the Science and Public Policy Institute in Washington D.C. says children are particularly susceptible to the radiation generated by cell phones because their brains are still growing.

“Cell phones can disrupt cardiac pacemakers, it compromises the blood-brain barrier and most startling it inflicts genetic damage and that is a known diagnostic marker for cancer,” said Carlo.
According to a nationwide study, the Global System for Mobile Communication may be connected with an increase in brain tumors, seizures and headaches (The Lancet 2000; 356:1833-1836).

The FDA and the FCC recently suggested ways to reduce radiofrequency exposure by using a hands-free device or cut down on phone usage.

“It is utterly irresponsible for the wireless industry to continue their misrepresentation of the science to facilitate misleading claims about safety,” Carlo told The Christian Post.

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By Deirdre Imus
Published July 11, 2011
Let’s face it…we love our cell phones. Whether we use them for business or just to keep in touch with family and friends, for most of us, they have become indispensable. Nonetheless, there are new warnings about the health risks associated with cell phone use that consumers need to be aware of.

In May, after a thorough review of the existing research, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), part of the World Health Organization (WHO), classified cell phones as “possibly carcinogenic to humans” and acknowledged that the radiation emitted from cell phones may increase an individual’s risk of brain cancer. Prior to this announcement, the WHO had maintained the position that no adverse health problems had been confirmed.

In one of the largest international studies undertaken, scientists found the rate of brain glioma (a type of tumor) doubled in individuals who used a cell phone for 10 years or more.
Now another potential health problem associated with cell phones is gaining attention. Researchers in Austria compared cell phone users to non-users and have found cell phone use capable of damaging sperm production and may be a contributing factor in male infertility.

This is not the first study that linked cell phones and male sterility. A number of earlier studies have come to similar conclusions. In 2005 researchers found the radio-frequency radiation produced by mobile phones had “a significant genotoxic [DNA-damaging] effect on …spermatozoa” in mice. A subsequent mouse study in 2007 found “significantly higher incidence of sperm cell death” and suggested “carrying cell phones near reproductive organs could negatively affect sperm quality” in men and may “impair male fertility.”

What is less clear is the impact cell phone radiation may have on disrupting embryonic development and whether the damaged sperm DNA may affect the development of a conceived fetus and possibly result in a newborn being more vulnerable to disease—such as childhood cancer—or other birth defects.

Nearly 10 percent of couples of childbearing age in the U.S., experience difficulty conceiving, almost half are the result of male infertility. The inability to conceive can be a heartbreaking and relationship-threatening problem facing over 6 million couples.
Consumers need to understand all the potential health problems that could occur from long-term cell phone radiation exposure.
Despite these health concerns, it is unlikely that any of us are going to give up our cell phones. What we can do, however, is educate ourselves about which cell phones are the safest—having a lower SAR [specific absorption rate] value—take precautions and use them more wisely.

Check out your cell phone radiation ranking at the Environmental Working Group’s Cell Phone Shopping Guide. You may want to switch to a phone with a lower SAR.

• Text whenever possible.
• Hold your phone away from your body and use the speakerphone setting, a headset or Bluetooth device. Remove headset when not on a call (some wireless devices emit low-level radiation too!)
• Keep your cell phone away from your body…away from your ear and not in your pants pocket where radiation can be absorbed into your body’s tissue.
• Cell phones emit more radiation when trying to connect to cellular towers. Avoid using cell phones in buildings, elevators, and in rural areas where signals are weak if you want to reduce radiation exposure.

Parents also need to educate their children about cell phones. So many are beginning their cell phone use at a much earlier age when their skulls are thinner thus exposing them to a lifetime of potentially harmful radiation…far more years than their parent’s generation.

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Friday, July 15, 2011
The question of whether cellphone use causes brain tumours remains unsettled after the results of a major study on almost 13,000 cellphone users over 10 years.
The World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer study called INTERPHONE found most cellphone use didn’t increase the risk of developing meningioma, a common and frequently benign tumour, or glioma, a rarer but deadlier form of cancer.

“I think the results are tantalizing in the sense that overall we’re not seeing evidence of an increased risk,” said Prof. Daniel Krewski of the University of Ottawa, a Canadian member of the study group. “But … in this one exposure group, the 1,640-plus cumulative call hours, a possible increased risk in glioma.”
“We’re not sure about the significance of those results because some of the people in that category reported usage levels which were somewhat improbable.”

Handsets and texting have changed how people use cellphones, which are now less-often held against the head. (CBC) The overall findings are “comforting” from a public health point of view, but the possible increased risk of glioma among heavy users talking for more than 30 minutes per day on the same side of the head warrants a closer look, Krewski said.

The authors noted that “biases and error prevent a causal interpretation” that would directly blame radiation for the tumour.
The paper, published in the International Journal of Epidemiology, was compiled by researchers in 13 countries including Britain, Canada, France, Germany and Japan. The study looked at almost 13,000 participants, including 2,409 meningioma cases and 2,662 matched controls of the same age, gender and location, and 2,708 glioma cases with 2,972 matched controls.
It takes 10 to 20 years for many tumours in the head and neck areas to develop, which is why the study was designed to follow so many users.

Difficult to interpret
The potential effects of using hands-free devices during calls or the risk of having cellphones nearby, such as in a pocket, were not examined. Researchers mainly relied on people to recall their cellphone use. For some groups, cellphone use appeared to lessen the risk of developing cancers, which the researchers called “implausible.”

A separate study will look into the effects of cellphone use on children. (David Kohl/Associated Press) One explanation is that cellphone users may be healthier, but a more likely reason is people showing manifestations of neurological disease use cellphones less, Rodolfo Saracci of Italy’s National Research Council and Jonathan Samet of the University of Southern California’s department of preventive medicine said in a journal commentary accompanying the study.
“For the time being, INTERPHONE’s findings, interpreted in the context of prior studies, tells us that the question as to whether mobile phone use increases risk for brain cancers remains open,” Saracci and Samet wrote.

“The tired refrain ‘more research is needed’ fully applies in this instance: without more research the public’s question about the acceptability of cancer risk from mobile phones will remain unanswered.”

Texting changes cellphone usage
Last month, European scientists launched what will be the largest study into the long-term effects of cellphone use. The study aims to track at least a quarter of a million people in Europe for up to 30 years in real time. A separate study will look into the effects of cellphone use on children, who are believed to be more susceptible to the effects of radiation.

“It’s kind of embarrassing as a scientist to say we’ve just spent 12 years and 20 million euros and we think there’s not much of a risk there, but we’re not entirely sure,” Krewski acknowledged of the research so far, which included almost $2 million in Canadian funding.

At this point, researchers don’t have a plausible biological mechanism by which radio frequency fields could increase cancer risk in humans, said epidemiologist Dr. Mary McBride of the B.C. Cancer Agency, another Canadian member of the study.
“The way in which people use cellphones today and the number of users has certainly changed since the study data were collected,” said McBride. “In particular the exposure levels by using handsets and by texting are less than by holding the phone up to one’s ear.”

Precaution options
Both the study’s authors and the International EMF Collaborative, which wrote a counterview to the study, pointed to flaws in the research.

“When randomly selected controls are asked if they would like to participate in a ‘mobile phone’ study, they are far more likely to agree if they use mobile phones than if they don’t, and if they do not use a mobile phone, they are likely to refuse participation,” the counterview said.

The counterview authors also noted the study did not consider other sources of radio frequency radiation such as cordless phones, calling the five-year results “woefully inadequate as a gauge of risk today.”

“Four billion people own mobile phones worldwide; many of those users are children,” said Eileen O’Connor, director of the Radiation Research Trust and member of the International EMF Collaborative.
“Responsible governments must advocate for public transparency of risks so that an informed public may have more options to exercise precaution,” O’Connor added in a statement.

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