But there’s a huge public health crisis looming from one particular threat: EMR from cellular phones—both the radiation from the handsets and from the tower-based antennas carrying the signals—which studies have linked to development of brain tumors, genetic damage, and other exposure-related conditions.1-9 Yet the government and a well-funded cell phone industry media machine continue to mislead the unwary public about the dangers of a product used by billions of people. Most recently, a Danish epidemiological study announced to great fanfare the inaccurate conclusion that cell phone use is completely safe.10
Today, the computer and phone have merged into one device that fits in the palm of your hand. A smartphone is essentially a small computer, yet has many times the computing power of traditional computers. There are no cords to connect you to a base. When turned on in your pocket or being used against your head, the cell phone touches some of the most sensitive parts of the body. Although the cell phone produces lower levels of radiation then past computers, they are now used much closer to the body and for longer periods of time, thus creating more health risks than in the past.
There are ongoing worries about whether cellphones can give you cancer — especially brain cancer, since our phones spend so much time near our faces. It’s true that cell phones do emit radiation. But it’s radiofrequency radiation, which is much lower energy than the ionizing radiation you’d get from an X-ray, or, say, nuclear fallout. Ionizing radiation can cause DNA damage that can eventually lead to cancer. But the radiofrequency radiation from a cellphone doesn’t work that way — and today’s results support that.
The dangers of driving and texting are old news; if someone were to be harmed by their cellphone’s radiation, though, that would make headlines because novelty grabs people’s attention. In psychological experiments where people have to choose images, they gravitate towards ones they haven’t seen before — a phenomenon known as the novelty bonus. So if I wanted to grab a reader’s attention, I’d bet on a hypothetical headline that said “For the first time, cellphone radiation causes brain cancer in humans” over “Another person has died today from driving and texting.”
There is great variability in survival by brain tumor subtype, and by age at diagnosis. Overall, the 5-year relative survival for brain cancers diagnosed from 2008 through 2014 was 33.2% (49). This is the percentage of people diagnosed with brain cancer who will still be alive 5 years after diagnosis compared with the survival of a person of the same age and sex who does not have cancer.
The most common effect is heat generation (though non-thermal biological harm has also been demonstrated), which can alter the characteristics of various bodily tissues depending on the amount of radiation present and its ability to penetrate the body. Tissue damage can promote the cellular mutations and increase your long-term risk of developing cancer.
None of the three cases contain metallic parts, which are known to affect SAR, but all increased the user’s radiation exposure. The effect on radiation exposure would likely vary with each of the hundreds of cases on the market, and each would have to be tested individually to come up with an exact measure. The results in Table 1, however, are believed to reflect the range of radiation increases.
In 1993, the cell phone industry was pressured by Congress to invest $28 million into studying cell phone safety. The cause of this sudden concern was massive publicity about a lawsuit filed by Florida businessman David Reynard against cell phone manufacturer NEC. Reynard’s wife, Susan, died of a brain tumor, and he blamed cell phones for her death. Reynard revealed the suit to the public on the Larry King Live show, complete with dramatic x-rays showing the tumor close to where Susan held her cell phone to her head for hours each day.
In 2011, the American Cancer Society (ACS) stated that the IARC classification means that there could be some cancer risk associated with radiofrequency radiation, but the evidence is not strong enough to be considered causal and needs to be investigated further. Individuals who are concerned about radiofrequency radiation exposure can limit their exposure, including using an ear piece and limiting cell phone use, particularly among children.
The Working Group indicated that, although the human studies were susceptible to bias, the findings could not be dismissed as reflecting bias alone, and that a causal interpretation could not be excluded. The Working Group noted that any interpretation of the evidence should also consider that the observed associations could reflect chance, bias, or confounding rather than an underlying causal effect. In addition, the Working Group stated that the investigation of risk of cancer of the brain associated with cell phone use poses complex methodologic challenges in the conduct of the research and in the analysis and interpretation of findings.
With the background levels of information-carrying radio waves dramatically increasing because of the widespread use of cell phones,Wi-Fi, and other wireless communication, the effects from the near and far-fields are very similar. Overall, says Dr. Carlo, almost all of the acute and chronic symptoms seen in electrosensitive patients can be explained in some part by disrupted intercellular communication. These symptoms of electrosensitivity include inability to sleep, general malaise, and headaches. Could this explain the increase in recent years of conditions such as attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), autism, and anxiety disorder?
Overall, the reviews of case-control studies seem to suggest there is perhaps no risk of cancer with cellphone use — unless you look at some subgroups (like people in blinded studies or people with long-term exposures). But these reviews are based on case-control studies — which are like the National Enquirer of the science world: cheap and often misleading.
Since 2001, the FCC has allowed manufacturers to test phones at a distance of up to one inch from the body to account for the use of a holster. In a 2012 report, however, the Government Accountability Office, the Congressional watchdog agency, noted that many cell phone owners actually keep and use their phones right next to the body, so these outdated testing policies could result in radiofrequency (RF) radiation exposure greater than the FCC’s legal limit (GAO 2012). The GAO report concluded:
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And even with these unusually high levels of exposure, the links to cancer were still “mostly equivocal, or ambiguous,” according to the FDA’s statement. In fact, the rats exposed to cell phone radiation actually appeared to live longer than the ones that weren’t, a finding that the FDA’s Shuren says the agency is assessing. The difference could simply be the result of chance, STAT News reports.
Every day, we’re swimming in a sea of electromagnetic radiation (EMR) produced by electrical appliances, power lines, wiring in buildings, and a slew of other technologies that are part of modern life. From the dishwasher and microwave oven in the kitchen and the clock radio next to your bed, to the cellular phone you hold to your ear—sometimes for hours each day—exposure to EMR is growing and becoming a serious health threat.
In order to protect the population living around base stations and users of mobile handsets, governments and regulatory bodies adopt safety standards, which translate to limits on exposure levels below a certain value. There are many proposed national and international standards, but that of the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP) is the most respected one, and has been adopted so far by more than 80 countries. For radio stations, ICNIRP proposes two safety levels: one for occupational exposure, another one for the general population. Currently there are efforts underway to harmonise the different standards in existence.
While talking on your cell phone, prefer to position the cell phone away from your body as far as possible. Whenever possible, use the speakerphone mode or an airtube wired headset (not a wireless headset, not a wireless earpiece). The electromagnetic field (radiation) is one-fourth the strength at a distance of two inches and fifty times lower at three feet.
Since speaking with Samet, further details came out from a large study that beamed high levels of phone radiation at rats and mice. While there remain quirks in the findings, the latest evidence still doesn’t find a link between phone radiation and cancer. In response, the FDA said, “Taken together, all of this research ... [has] given us the confidence that the current safety limits for cell phone radiation remain acceptable for protecting the public health.”
Did you watch any of the videos? A healthy amount of skepticism is appropriate but be careful about just being a Debbie Downer. Admittedly, you haven’t tried all the products and probably aren’t even familiar with them yet quickly offer blanket assessments that it’s all marketing hype perpetuated by an evil Monopoly-man looking guy who just wants to take your money and snicker about what a sucker you are. Good luck with that.