October 22nd, 2011
By: Rafael Castillo
Last week we talked about the long-term hazard of microwave radiation from prolonged use of cellular phones. But it’s not only mobile phones that we should be concerned about. Another product of modern technology, which no doubt gives us a lot of convenience, can also be a source of radiation that might contribute to the development of brain tumors later on in life. We’re referring to cordless phones that we use a lot of at home.
The Swedish study we cited last week found that both cell phone and cordless phone users had increased risk of brain tumors. Cordless phones emit the same type of wireless microwave radiation as cell phones. While cell phones receive wireless signals transmitted from cell towers and satellites, cordless phones pick up signals emanating from the antenna on the phone’s base station—right in our own homes.
So the phone base should not be placed in seating areas where people would normally stay. These unsuspecting individuals who sit near the phone base are absorbing microwave radiation more than they bargained for. Insidiously, the microwave radiation is penetrating their tissues and cells, disrupting the normal cellular functioning.
Scientists say that it can cause some changes on the DNA; and it penetrates through the delicate blood-brain barrier, which is a mechanism to ward off “invaders” to the brain. But it becomes powerless with increased levels of microwave radiation.
When we use cellular and cordless phones more than we safely could, just imagine the structures close to it—and that includes the brain, eyes, ears and even the thyroid gland in the neck—bathing harmfully in microwave frequencies. If you have these symptoms—recurring headaches, dizziness, twitching of the eyelids, burning sensation on the face and ears, sleep disturbances, vision problems, neck pain and ringing in the ears—they might be due to excessive cordless or cellular phone usage. Well, not in all cases, but it might be a good precautionary measure to avoid using these phones for a while until the symptoms subside. Go back to the good old wired landlines, and just send and receive messages by texting with your mobile phones.
The above symptoms are short-term effects and are likely to be only transient, but if sustained, long-term exposure to microwave radiation on and around the head has been linked to more serious consequences like brain tumors. There are less convincing data also linking it to visual problems including blindness, deafness and hair loss.
The association of microwave radiation due to these cordless and cellular phones with brain tumors is relatively stronger, with data suggesting that it could increase the risk three-fold for five years, and four-fold in 10 years. A study by the Karolinska Institute in Sweden showed a remarkably higher risk of acoustic neuroma (a type of brain tumor) from the use of mobile phones over a 10-year period.
“Pero ano pong magagawa natin, kailangan po natin ang mga ito (But what can we do? They’re necessary!)” says Joanna Reyes from Caloocan City in an e-mail message. Of course, they’re very useful and we have made them an absolute necessity in modern life (not that they really are!) But we just have to take some precautions:
If we have to use cordless phones at home, the base unit and remote extra handsets must be kept away from where people sit or sleep. (Although some researchers would even caution that the radiation could penetrate through nonconcrete walls.)
Use cordless phones sparingly. Unless one is bedridden or wheelchair borne, it’s much better to walk and get a little bit of exercise, going to where the corded landline is. (Cordless phones and remote control devices are contributing to increased sedentary life and obesity.)
For mobile phones, we already said the use of a hands-free accessory, keeping the cell phone farther away from the head and neck area, is preferred.
Calls must only be made when the message to be communicated cannot be done by simple SMS.
Avoid availing promo offers for unlimited calls by telephone companies, unless it’s financial expediency far outweighs the risk of being tempted to use the phone much longer than is absolutely necessary.
Manufacturers of cellular and cordless phones should be transparent to their end-users about the real and potentially serious risk of microwave radiation due to these phones. It may need legislation to achieve this, but every cell phone and mobile phone user must be properly informed about mounting scientific data linking these phones with brain tumors and other serious long-term complications.
For sure, any of these phone executives would not like their 15-year olds to talk with their friends for hours on end, as some commercials would suggest, and face the risk of a possible brain surgery or even death 10 years hence because of a brain tumor. Certainly not worth it.
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