Healing Path magazine assigned me this piece, coincidentally at a time when I was seeking anything that could help reverse a rash of poor health my family was experiencing. We’re doing better now, possibly in part by the awareness and lifestyle adjustments brought by my research. It is published in the Jan-Feb ‘09 issue.
by Sonia Koetting
It’s easy to agree that cell phones are exceptionally useful devices, and most of us use them at least occasionally. The American Cancer Society and the FDA continue to tell us that no evidence has been found linking the electromagnetic frequencies (EMFs) of phones and other electronic devices to cancer. In 2004, a spokeswoman for the Mobile Operators Association said, “…the weight of scientific evidence to date suggests that exposure to radio waves from mobile phone handsets and base stations… do not cause adverse health effects.”
Then why have Germany, France, Sweden, Ontario and Israel issued warnings to their citizens about exposure to EMFs?
On September 25, 2008, a domestic policy subcommittee of our own government hosted a panel of interested parties to consider the veracity and urgency of this public health threat. At that meeting, Dr. David Carpenter, Dean of the School of Public Health at the University of Albany, said that the expansion of wireless technology is enormous in its implications. He believes the FCC (in charge of regulating this technology) is unduly conservative in the favor of the industries they represent, and fails to protect public health. Chief of the FCC’s office of Technology, Julius Knapp, was also present at the meeting. Knapp admitted that the FCC is comprised of engineers, not biologists, and that he knows of no studies being done by the FCC with collaboration of the FDA. Committee Chair Rep. Dennis Kucinich vowed that the committee will not let this issue of public safety rest.
While Dr. Carpenter and others claim EMFs are implicated in numerous health effects like fatigue, headaches and learning disabilities — diverse symptoms for which the causes are difficult to ferret out — the data most strongly points to a link between mobile device radiation and 3 types of rare tumors:
• Glioma (Senator Ted Kennedy was recently diagnosed with this)
• cancer of the parotid (a salivary gland near the ear) and
• acoustic neuroma (a non-cancerous growth where the ear meets the brain, sometimes called a “schwannoma”).
The risk of these cancers seemed to double after 10 years of heavy use. The FDA admits that the average length of previous studies was only 3 years, and cumulative effects over such long periods have not been exhaustively researched.
With more than 3 billion cell phone users worldwide and growing, a steady increase of wireless technologies, and length of exposure growing with each passing year, even a miniscule risk is a significant public health issue.
That risk is the worst menace to children. A study in July 2008 by Devia Davis at the Center for Environmental Oncology at the University of Pittsburgh points to the fact that children absorb more radiation from their phones because their skulls are thinner, and the protective myelin sheath of a brain isn’t fully developed until age 20. Images from the study show how cell phone radiation reaches a small portion of an adult brain, but penetrates nearly the entire head of a child.
In 2006, The New York Times reported that the mobile industry had begun super-sizing marketing efforts toward tweens, and was introducing darling phone products to be cuddled by the 5-year-old age group. Parents perceive a safety benefit of their kids carrying cell phones, while perhaps overlooking the potential threat to the health of their child. Children of the world are now raging toward cell phones in numbers that shame Tickle Me Elmo and Cabbage Patch dolls. What is the outlook for a child who may well face 70 years of cell phone usage?
Because cell phone technology is one of the most lucrative and powerful businesses on the planet, some consumer advocates are labeling this a communication conspiracy: “Big Tobacco 2.0”. The consequences may dim statistics associated with public health disasters like asbestos and cigarettes.
In June 2008, the New York Times reported that an association with cancer does exist. The report cites a highly respected research effort of 13 European countries, the Interphone Study, which showed that radio waves do affect body cells and damage DNA. Definitive research to discover at what point this damage renders a serious health defect will take another 4 to 5 years, according to the German leaders of the research.
Perhaps we shouldn’t wait for industry advocates to agree a risk exists.
It takes too long to get answers from science, according to Ronald B. Herberman, Director of the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute. He is one who calls for action now, especially in protecting children.
When two new cell phone towers were recently erected in Northern Colorado, it didn’t escape the notice of Longmont resident Debbie Kankiewicz, whose experience with natural alternatives to health led her to multi-national company BioPro. She cites over 350 cell phone antenna and 61 towers in a 4-mile radius centered over Fort Collins alone (check AntennaSearch.com for your address). Technology can’t reverse, but products are marketed with the intent of protecting humans from the increasing effects of EMF exposure.
BioPro representatives like Kankiewicz believe even our smallest electrical appliances negatively affect us, though many scientists will point out a difference between ionizing and non-ionizing radiation. It also is fair to say that some people are much more sensitive than average to the effects of electropollution, and this condition may change in a lifetime. The variables are so great that — like many potential health issues — people tend to cut the chase to the dire question of cancer.
But before cancer becomes an end result, Kankiewicz and others claim that consistent exposure to EMFs at any level affects the adrenal glands, and can manifest into disease such as fibromyalgia, chronic headaches, anxiety and even autism. Changing the bio-fields around her, she said, “totally affected my being, like a blanket of calm settled in front of me.” Her home is liberally sprinkled with BioPro “chips” on appliances and a “whole-house harmonizer”.
On the other hand, Powerwatch.org, a website produced in the U.K., warns against relying on “gizmos” to give protection. Afterall, your doctor and dentist trust only distance and lead aprons to keep bodies safe from ionizing x-rays.
As long as humans have been on earth, they’ve been exposed to naturally occuring sources of ionizing radiation from the soil, space and atmosphere. Technology escalates that environmental negative, though science has yet to agree on what degree. Meanwhile, on the heels of the rage toward a wireless world, comes businesses like BioPro, whose dealers sell stick-on devices to protect us from EMFs; and EMFields.org, which sell metal mesh and carbon paint as physical barriers to get relief from the constant bombardment.
While the U.S. government wrestles with the issue of illness related to cell phones, we each must decide for ourselves and our children — with consideration of individual factors like proximity to multiple sources of EMFs, overall health and integrity of immune systems — what we will do to minimize the risk of the increasing invisible pollution that’s part of the electronic modern world.
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