“I hope you’re talking to me on a speakerphone,” Devra Davis barks at me when I call her on my cell phone. “You’d better not be holding that phone up to your head.”
Indeed, I’m not. This is a good thing, because you don’t want to get into an argument with Davis on this subject. She’s the director of the University of Pittsburgh’s Center for Environmental Oncology, and her group recently put out
recommendations that we should be using a speakerphone or ear piece. The report says children, who have thinner skulls and developing brains, should use cell phones only in case of emergency.
And heaven forbid anyone should carry a cell phone in a pocket or clipped to a belt. “You’re just roasting your bone marrow,” Davis said.
Oh, boy. Another thing to worry about. Or maybe Davis is an alarmist. It’s so hard to tell. Although there are many large studies showing no connection between mobile phones and cancer, there are a few that do. As Davis puts it, do you really want to play Russian roulette with your head?
But if you do buy the cellphones-cause-cancer argument, you have to figure out the best way to talk on a cell phone, seeing as how most of us can’t live without them. Should you use the wired headset that came with your phone? A Bluetooth earpiece? iReport.com: Does your kid have a cell phone?
I embarked on a journey this past week to answer these questions and at many points have been very sorry I did. This is the mother of all “the jury is still out” issues.
Cell phones have been wildly popular for only a matter of years, and it can take at least a decade for cancers to show up. Studies contradict each other, and scientists bicker: Some will tell you with great conviction that there’s nothing to worry about. Others will tell you with equal conviction that an epidemic of brain tumors may be just around the corner.
The cell phone industry itself says “the overwhelming majority of studies that have been published in scientific journals around the globe show that wireless phones do not pose a health risk.” You can this week.So what are we all to do until they figure it out? After enough interviews with physicists, engineers and doctors to make me want to stick my head in a microwave oven, one common line of reasoning emerged.
Cell phones do emit radiation. No one knows definitively whether it’s enough to worry about.
Mobile phones meet federal safety limits, but if you’re still worried, there are some simple steps you can take to lower your exposure to radiation.
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