Not So Fast
On the other hand, there are many physicians and scientists like Matthew Pearson, M.D., assistant professor of neurosurgery at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, who believe that long term use of cell phones near the head is harmless. Yes children’s skulls are thinner, Pearson says.But cellular phones don’t produce harmful radiation. Parents should be a lot more concerned about older kids using cell phones while driving. To me, that’s the big health and safety issue. An analysis of world literature showed no association of mobile phone use with brain tumors, except a select group of studies, Pearson explains.
And that’s where things get really complicated; research done to date has produced mixed results.
For instance, separate studies conducted in England and Germany showed that people who have used cells for more than a decade had twice the incidence of brain cancer than non-cell users. A Swedish study found that early cell phone adopters (people who have used a mobile phone for 15 years) developed acoustic neuromas, non-cancerous brain tumors, four times as often as infrequent cell users. On the other hand, a long-term study of 420,000 users in Denmark found no link to cell phone use and any type of cancer.
Award-winning cancer expert and neurosurgeon Vini Khurana, M.D., has published dozens of research papers and reviewed more than 100 studies of mobile phone radiation and its effects. He says, Mobile phones could have health consequences far greater than asbestos or smoking. Yet for every physician or scientist like Khurana who see a brain cancer epidemic on the horizon, there are just as many experts like Pearson who say, I’d be completely flabbergasted, if there was a worldwide increase in brain tumors in 20 years.
Last year, researchers reviewed 101 scientific publications on the potential danger of RF electromagnetic fields. Slightly more than half of them concluded that cell phone radiation could have harmful health effects, while the other half found no danger at all. To try and put the matter to rest, the International Agency for Research on Cancer conducted a huge 10-year cell phone study called Interphone. It included 14,000 participants from 13 countries. The results? Contradictory.
As reported in Science News magazine, Inter-phone researcher Siegal Sadetzki said, If you look at the overall evidence, this study did not confirm or dismiss the possible association between cell phones and brain tumors. That’s the bottom line. However, she added, We see a few indications of risk. And these indications appear among people who were exposed for the longest duration. We do have some suspicions.
Concurrently, major heath organizations like the World Health Organization (WHO), the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and The Centers For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said there’s not enough evidence to conclusively prove a link between cell phone use and cancer.
Although some studies have raised concerns, the scientific research, when taken together, does not indicate a significant association between cell phone use and health effects, reported the CDC.
So why are phones coming out with warnings to keep the devices away from your head? I think that has way more to do with litigation than science, Pearson theorizes.
There’s a similarity here to the debunked link between vaccines and autism.Â It doesn’t take much to cause fear in parents, but large companies have to be concerned about litigation even though it doesn’t make sense.
Not so, says Olga Naidenko, senior scientist at the Environmental Working Group and author of a recent paper about cell phone radiation. Naidenko is convinced that our global love affair with phones is making us blind to the obvious: We all wish we’d heeded the early warnings about cigarettes, she says. We think cell phones are similar.
Here at Home …
With all of the debate in the scientific community, warnings in cell phone safety manuals and cell phone use restrictions for kids in Europe, why are so many American parents still in the dark about this issue?
Heather Cornett, a local mother of two in Franklin, says she was unaware of any safety concerns with her cell phone, but adds, Im not surprised. I have a hard time believing something can transmit electromagnetic radiation so close to your head and not have an effect.
One of the reasons the issue is still relatively unknown in the United States is because the government hasn’t seen enough conclusive evidence to issue a warning.
That’s because they are focusing on the narrow question of dead bodies, says avis,p roof of harm.
The wireless industry is also working hard to make sure parents aren’t spooked by their products. The telecom industry actually funds cell phone radiation studies to diminish consumer fears. Interestingly, only 25 percent of the wireless industry studies showed proof of harm, while 75 percent of similar studies by independent researchers found reason to be concerned.
Here’s the bottom line: No matter what the studies show or what the government recommends, cell phones are here to stay. People would rather leave the house without underwear than without their phone, says Davis.
So what are cautious parents to do when it comes to their children and the unavoidable fact that they’ll own a cell phone before they reach high school?
Radiation lowering devices like Radiation Armor are a possible option. It’s a jelly bean sized chip that sticks onto the back of your phone. Created by Green Planet Innovations, Inc., CEO Mark Mathes explains, When radiation from the phone hits the Radiation Armor polymer, it oscillates to create a sound wave that attaches itself to the radio wave, so when it goes into the body, it’s a safer wave. The result is a lower SARS rating. A seatbelt doesn’t prevent you from being killed in a car wreck and sunscreen doesn’t completely prevent skin cancer but they sure do reduce the risk. So does this product.
Another company, Pong Research, sells a cell phone case designed to channel radiation waves away from the users head. Time magazine reports that Alfred Wong, Pong’s lead scientist and professor of physics at UCLA, sums it up when he says, I think it’s best to avoid as much of the risk as possible until the verdict is in.
Deborah Bohn is a frequent contributor to this publication. She lives in Franklin with her family.
Cell Phone Safety Tips
• Know that distance is the key to safety.
• Limit phone use to texting or use wired headsets or the speaker function when talking.
• Avoid carrying phones next to your body.
• Avoid sleeping with cell phones. In 2010, AARP magazine reported that 78 percent of 12- to 13-year-olds have gone to sleep with their phones on their pillow and 86 percent of kids older than 14 have done so.
• Explore radiation lowering devices such as Radiation Armor (radiationarmor.com; $39.95 for a single cell chip pack) or the Case-Mate by Pong Research (case-mate.com/pong; various prices depending on the case).
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