Most of us are never really far from our cell phones – they’re usually in our pockets, palms or a convenient reachable distance. However, these nifty devices are said to emit radiation that may escalate our chance of getting cancer.
Cell phones produce microwave radio-frequency radiation, which has the ability to penetrate our bodies. And multiple peer reviewed studies indicate that cell phones usage can cause cancer and other diseases.
As reported by the World Health Organization (WHO), cell phones emit radio-frequency (RF) fields 1000 times greater than what is emitted from base stations. It’s obvious that this increased emission is likely to have some adverse effect on the health of users. And though there is no clear evidence that suggests that the exposure to RF fields increases the risk of cancer, the International Agency for Research on Cancer has classified RF as a possible carcinogen in humans.
According to Time, the scientific conclusion relayed by a working group of 31 scientists from 14 countries that met at the WHO’s International Agency for Research on Cancer states that using a mobile phone may increase your risk for certain kinds of brain cancers.
The group classified cell phones in the carcinogenic category 2B, similar to chemicals like the pesticide DDT and gasoline engine exhaust. In slightly clearer terms, that means cellphone radiation is “possibly carcinogenic” to human beings.
“A review of the human evidence of epidemiological studies shows an increased risk of glioma and malignant types of brain cancer in association with wireless-phone use,” Dr. Jonathan Samet, the chairperson of the IARC working group, stated.
It’s not clear exactly how much of an elevated cancer risk cell phone users might face, or even the biological methods by which cell phone radiation could cause brain tumors. The radiation emitted by cell phones is non-ionizing, meaning that it shouldn’t have enough energy to damage body tissue the way that ionizing — and carcinogenic — x-ray radiation can. But IARC says that the results of epidemiological studies of cell phone users indicate an association between handset use and tumors.
A ten-year long WHO Interphone study had also confirmed previous reports stating what many experts have warned – that regular use of a cell phone can significantly increase the risk of glioma by 40 percent with 1640 hours or more of use (this is about one-half hour per day over ten years). Tumors were more likely to occur on the side of the head most used for calling.
“While this study is not perfect, the risks documented in it must be taken seriously as a warning to limit cell phone use, to restrict the use of cell phones, especially by children, and to call on manufacturers for redesign of cell phones and PDAs. It should also serve as a warning to governments that the deployment of new wireless technologies may bring risks to the public that are widespread, involuntary and increase long-term health care costs,” said David Carpenter, BioInitiative Report co-editor and Director of the Institute for Health and the Environment at University at Albany.
Additionally, Lennart Hardell of Orebro University, Sweden backs up the findings.
“The final Interphone results support findings of several research groups, including our own, that continuing use of a mobile phone increases risk of brain cancer. We would not expect to see substantially increased brain tumor risk for most cancer-causing agents except in the longer term (10 year and longer) as is the case here in the population of regular cell phone users.
“The patients included in this study were 30-59 years old, excluding younger and older users. Use of cordless phones was neglected in the analysis. Radio-frequency radiation from some cordless phones can be as high as mobile phones in some countries, so excluding such use would underestimate the risk.”
With more than four billion cell phone users around the world, the potential for a brain cancer epidemic leads experts to call for changes in cell phone design, warnings, and a ban on use by children.
Children are more at risk than adults from the effects of most toxic exposures in life, including both chemicals and radio-frequency radiation from cell phones. And experts are worried about the effects of radio-frequency radiation on the developing brain and nervous system of children.
Though there is a lot of interest surrounding the link between cell phone radiation and cancer. Cancer is only the tip of the iceberg. Microwave radio-frequency radiation exposures of the type emitted by cell phones are also linked to many other diseases and potentially life threatening illnesses, including:
- sperm damage and male infertility
- vaginal discharge
- vascular system disease
- childhood cancer
- sleep problems
- memory loss
- concentration difficulties
- dizziness and fatigue
- suicidal tendencies
- heart attacks
- bone marrow interference
- altered calcium level in cells
- reduction in night-time melatonin
- suppression of the immune system
- skin symptoms
- lymphatic diseases
- hearing problems
It is always advisable to use a hands-free device or keep the phone a few inches away from the body while making a call. Making more usage of texting and keeping mobile phones away from the body while talking can go a long way in reducing radiation. Furthermore, one should ideally use a cell phone for less than six minutes in an hour. Anything more than that affects our body.