By:Andrew Martin November 22, 2011
There’s been a lot of hubbub in the news recently about the potential risks of cellular phones. Do they cause cancer? How much cancer are they going to cause? Will the cancer roll over from month to month?
Well, the cancer thing seems to have been overblown, but apparently the jury is still out on a whole host of much weirder effects your phone could (could) be having on you right now. For instance …
#7. It Might Be Killing Your Sperm
All cellphones, if you haven’t heard, emit electromagnetic radiation. The study of what this radiation does to the body is relatively new. So for instance, for a while people thought maybe holding a phone up to your head all day caused brain tumors, and that wasn’t dispelled until very recently, when somebody finally did a huge study that found that they don’t.
So when you see all of these headlines on the Internet about the negative health effects of cellphones, what we have are smaller studies that indicate some kind of weird effect (i.e., a phone can fry a man’s balls), and we’re all waiting for somebody to fund a larger, longer-term study to find out for sure (if cellphones are frying men’s balls). http://www.cracked.com/article_19538_7-ways-your-cellphone-screwing-with-your-body-mind.html
Which brings us to a couple of studies that indicate cellphones might be frying men’s balls.
It started a few years ago when researchers at the Cleveland Clinic found that men who used cellphones a lot (more than four hours a day) consistently had lower sperm quality. OK, that could be something other than the phones themselves — maybe low-sperm guys just like phones, where more virile dudes like to conduct all of their meetings face to face because there is a better chance of spontaneous sex.
So, they tested it. They gathered sperm from a few dozen men and, while keeping it all at the same temperature/conditions, put half of it in front of a cellphone and left the other half alone. On average, the doctors found an 85 percent increase in the amount of free radicals in the phone semen (if you don’t remember what free radicals are from chemistry class, just know that sperm don’t like them).
We know what you’re thinking: “I don’t put my phone up to my crotch except for when I’m having phone sex! Because I don’t know how phone sex works!” But the problem is headsets — when you are using a headset or earpiece, you tend to leave the phone in your pocket, or in your lap. If you’re a dude, that’s next to your nuts.
Again, that’s just one study, and they admit the conditions in the lab didn’t perfectly imitate those you find inside a human ball sack. Further study is needed, so they’re probably looking for irradiated scrotum subjects if you know anyone who wants to volunteer. Maybe you’ll turn into some kind of testicle-themed superhero!
#6. It Could Be Ruining Your Children
A huge study has shown that women who regularly expose their children to cellphone emissions, both while pregnant and after birth, are 50 percent more likely to have children with behavioral problems. And we’re talking about numbers that held up across a study of almost 100,000 mothers and nearly 30,000 children. That’s a hell of a lot to write off to coincidence.
Now, our readers are smart people, and we realize 80 percent of you have already asked your computer, “Could it be that phone users have bad kids because these horrible mothers are on their phones all the time instead of raising their goddamned children?” But their experiments tried to control for that; it didn’t matter how much or how little time the mother spent giving direct attention to the kid, or whether or not they were breast fed, or anything else. The only difference was phone usage.
The theory goes that cellphone emissions are causing an excess of melatonin (a hormone that regulates several bodily functions) in the mother. This can affect the mother’s metabolism and doodle with the development of the fetus’s brain.
Meanwhile, there are still scientists insisting that cellphone radiation can disrupt DNA strands, even though conventional wisdom has always been that microwave radiation can’t do that. They say they can show the results in mice and rabbits and that, you guessed it, further study is needed.
#5. Your Cellphone Is Destroying Your Senses
So as we alluded to, the problem is that science is trying to understand the long-term effects of a technology that hasn’t been around long term. The “every human has a phone pressed to their skull for six hours a day” era only started recently. There could be all sorts of effects that simply take longer to show up — maybe using a cellphone every day for 40 years gives you telekinesis. How would we know, until we finally had a large enough population that has been using them that long?
So it’s hard to immediately dismiss it when, for instance, somebody says your phone might be very slowly cooking your eyeballs.
Several years ago, a team in Israel did a study exposing cow eyes to the kind of heat and radiation given off by phones (cow eyes are similar to human eyes). They found that if you do it long enough, tiny bubbles start to form in the lens of the eye — a precursor to cataracts.
Then a year ago, researchers in India said the same thing, pointing out that the problem isn’t just that the radiation heats up your eyeball, but that your eye doesn’t have a good way to dissipate the heat into the rest of your body, since it’s kind of a self-contained orb up there. You’ve seen how easy it is to just pluck them out in horror movies.
Not that your hearing is getting off any easier; another study found that using your phone for 60 minutes a day over the course of four years can lead to inner ear damage, which leads to high-frequency hearing loss. What does that look like? It looks like not being able to make out consonant sounds like S, F, T and Z. The vowels are still understood, but unless you plan on taking up permanent residence in Hawaii, you’re going to need those consonants to communicate.
What would cause that? They’re not sure; the researchers who did that study guessed that maybe the radiation affects the inner ear somehow, while an audiologist says listening to anything that long can damage your hearing. You don’t think of a phone conversation as loud, but cramming a little speaker against your ear is harder on your hearing than having the same conversation in person. You know, the same reason ear doctors have been warning us about our iPod ear buds since the things were invented.
#4. Your Phone Is Encrusted With Germs
We have previously pointed out how everyday objects around your house become germ sponges, especially anything that comes in constant contact with your hands (let’s put it this way — you should take a break after you read this and wipe down your keyboard). And one of the germiest parts of your body is your mouth — this is why you freak out when a homeless man licks your face.
Now think about your phone. In addition to spending hours getting covered in your breath and tiny flecks of spit, ask yourself where your hand was before you answered it. Picking something from your teeth? Or nose? Handling some raw chicken? In other words, your phone is getting bombarded with germs every time it’s used. So, knowing that … how often do you disinfect your phone? Have you ever?
We don’t have to speculate about how filthy it is; let’s let Andy Felton, director of a microbial sterilization systems company in England, explain the research to you: “Based on these findings, holding your phone to your mouth is as dangerous as placing your face on a toilet bowl.”
And if you think that all you’re doing is giving your own germs back to yourself, think about the next time you see a doctor. Hospitals and clinics are sterile environments, right? There are cleaning stations everywhere, people put on gloves before handling sick patients. It’s just too bad that doctors are wiping their asses with their cellphones. Or, to put it more scientifically:
“A new study checked out the mobile phones of 200 doctors and nurses, and found that 95 percent of them were contaminated with bacteria, while 1 in 8 had the MRSA staph bug.”
The doctors, like you, don’t regard their phones as being filth magnets. They touch their phones, then they touch your junk. All of those safety measures and precautions are flung out the door when doctors smear their hands and faces with bacteria that includes superbugs like MRSA, which are resistant to one or more commonly used antibiotics.
Only 10 percent of the health care professionals involved in the study actually admitted to cleaning their phone on a routine basis, which really makes you wonder what the other 90 percent of them were doing during the lecture on germs in medical school.
Dr. Charles Gerba, a microbiologist at the University of Arizona, has come to the same funktastic conclusion. “We have found [the superbug] MRSA on several cellphones,” he said. “So we certainly find a lot of stuff on them — particularly the flip kind, since they have surfaces that do not dry out.” So not only are flip phone owning doctors behind on the technological curve, they’re also rubbing their face bacteria all over you.
#3. Texting Has Hacked Our Subconscious
This one is so bizarre that we had difficulty believing it. Then again …
Pretty much everyone under 30 is living in the text generation. At this point the average teenager sends more than a 100 damned texts a day. Last year, an astounding 6.1 trillion text messages were sent worldwide. Yes, we said trillion, with a “T.” Now think about the sheer repetition of the thumb motions a person makes while texting on a number pad phone — the average 16-year-old can probably send a text in her sleep.
So a study in Germany has found that dialing certain numbers into your phone triggers a subconscious reaction based on the word you would be spelling out if you were texting. A reaction strong enough to, as weird as this sounds, actually affect your mood.
In the experiment, the test subjects were given cellphones with the letters covered up, so that only the numbers were visible. They were then told to type in certain sequences of numbers and rate how pleasurable they found that typing experience.
And bizarrely, their emotional responses coincided with the word they would have been texting every time. Without seeing the letters themselves, people who typed in 5683 (which translates to the German word for “love” in text speak) rated that experience more pleasurable than typing in 26478 (which translates to “fear”). And the interesting part was that they didn’t have to dial the number multiple times for the concept to take hold.
To make sure it wasn’t just some weird coincidence, they tried it from another angle. They found the test subjects were able to accurately pick words off a computer screen that were subconsciously suggested by the numbers they just dialed. So, let’s say they were asked to dial 9834, and the corresponding German letters spell “zeitgeist.”
“Zeitgeist” would be the word the subjects picked off the board.
This obviously only applies to people who still use number pads for texting (or grew up doing it) and, as we said, it seems too weird to be real. But then you realize how many thousands and thousands of times a heavy texter hits the 2 key when they want to type “B” and how the two characters become permanently linked in their minds. So if it seems like the guy you just met dislikes you for no reason, take a moment to make sure your phone number doesn’t accidentally spell out “douche.”
#2. It’s Distracting You More Than You Think
Anybody who has nearly died at the hands of a driver talking on their cellphone (that is, all of you) knows that talking on the phone can make a person a little oblivious to their surroundings. But experiments show it’s worse than you think.
In one study, researchers at Western Washington University set out to prove just how drastic and ridiculous this effect could be. They arranged for a clown to unicycle up and down one of the streets on a busy college campus, all day, juggling and doing other clown-related activities.
Surveyors then asked pedestrians on the street if they had noticed anything unusual that day. About half noticed the clown. No matter what they were doing in terms of distraction — walking and talking with friends, or listening to their iPod, or just walking alone — it was about the same rate for all of them.
All but the cellphone users. Only 25 percent of the students talking on cellphones had noticed the clown at all.
Again, they weren’t asked to remember what color the clown’s wig was, or if he was wearing pants. Three in four didn’t register that he was there at all, as if having the phone pressed to their ear somehow rendered them blind.
Not only did the researchers find that talking on cellphones magically turned circus performers invisible, they also noticed the cell users had trouble walking in a manner acceptable for sentient beings. People talking on their phones moved more slowly, were more reckless with the traffic hurtling past them and were more prone to weaving and abrupt direction changes. Really, it’s amazing none of them ran into the clown.
Millions of years of evolution has shaped us into efficient walkers, yet two decades of talking on cellphones has turned us into aimless, bumbling idiots. Well, watch your backs, chatty pedestrians. Evolution sort of has a way of correcting these things.
#1. Your Cellphone Is Breaking Up Your Family
Thanks to cellphones, husbands and wives and boyfriends and girlfriends are never truly apart. At the office? At the store? Hanging out with the guys or girls? Your significant other is never more than 11 digits away. You would think that this constant, instant communication would strengthen relationships. You’d be wrong.
Recent studies show that the problem is mood spillover between your work and home life. Your cellphone ends up as a sort of rage transporter, allowing for the instant ruination of your loved one’s day.
Those different parts of our lives used to be more contained. Work was work and home was home. When the mister had a bad day, he came home, got his whiskey and coke and locked himself in the den. The day was over, the last thing he wanted to do was dwell on it. And when the family went on vacation, they were truly on vacation — there weren’t no damned phones on the beach in 1975. But now? Look around the restaurant the next time you’re eating. How many people are checking their email? That is, assuming you’re not one of them.
Sure, it might not be required that you reply to the boss’s emailed question instead of having sex with your partner. But if you don’t do it, you’ll be distracted the whole time. Before you know it, you’re carrying around the office in your pocket, everywhere you go. So now, when there is a disaster at work, that disaster shows up right there at your son’s birthday party at Chuck E. Cheese’s.
The survey showed that for women, the news was double bad. Not only were they inclined to use the cellphone to transfer work problems to home, but also the phone was the method of bringing home problems into the office. Problems with school or the baby sitter don’t wait for her to come home, they show up right there at her desk, distracting her for the rest of the day. And if you’ve ever worked with someone struggling with personal problems from a cubicle, you know it’s not pretty.
Not that we’d ever considering going back. In a survey, 20 percent said that losing their cellphone would be equally if not more stressful than breaking up with their partner. Another part of the survey showed that 40 percent of iPhone owners would forgo spending time with their significant other as long as they could keep their iPhone.
And a staggering 33 percent of people would rather give up sex than give up their cellphone.
Yeah, let that sink in. All these health problems the phones may or may not cause? They better find a way to fix it, because we’re damned well not going to give up our phones.
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