Saturday, September 12, 2009

Cell Phone? Danger Zone!

For years I have been trying to convince my children that cell phones could conceivably be hazardous to their health. I first became suspicious when Johnny (if-it-doesn't-fit-you-must-acquit) Cochran died of a brain tumor that his wife thought might be related to his constant cell phone use. The malignancy was located on the side of his head and in the general area where he held the device.

A year or so later, I happened to read an article in my local newspaper about a realtor who died of brain cancer, located in precisely the same region of her head where she once positioned her cell phone. Apparently, she'd been on it nearly all day long for years, and she did feel that the cancer was related.

Anecdotal evidence? Yes, but I found both pieces of it pretty compelling at the time. Of course, when I shared these stories with my kids, they assured me that I was completely neurotic, way out in left field, and an alarmist. (In the ensuing years, no doubt I have proven them correct, but not as regards the cell phone issue!)

At any rate, new research has emerged, and according to David Servan-Schreiber, MD-PhD (author of Anti-Cancer, a New Way of Life), yours truly (formerly known as neurotic wife, mother, and alarmist) wasn't so far out in left field after all! Let me quote the good doctor:

"The most recent studies, which include subjects with a history of cell phone use of ten years or more, show a probable association with certain benign tumors (neuromas of the acoustic nerve) and some brain cancers on the side the device is used."

Dr. Servan-Schreiber then offers what he calls "Ten Precautions for Cell Phone Use." He stresses that these are "precautions" rather than "preventative measures" because there is still no definitive proof that cell phones are dangerous. He does, however, highly recommend adopting these precautions, so I'd like to offer an abridged version of them for you:

1. Do not allow children under 12 years of age to use a cell phone except in emergencies.
2. While speaking on your cell phone, try to keep the device away from the body. (Best protection is speaker phone mode, followed by a wireless Bluetooth headset.)
3. As much as possible, keep your distance from a person using a cell phone. Keep your distance from others when you are using yours.
4. Avoid carrying your phone on you constantly, even on standby, unless it is turned off. Do not keep it near your body at night on the bedside table, particularly when pregnant. (Electromagnetic emissions will cease entirely in the offline mode.)
5. If you must carry the phone with you, position the key pad toward your body and the back away from you.
6. Use your cell phone only to establish contact, then call back from a land line. (The ones with a cord are safer than the cordless ones.)
7. Switch ears regularly, and don't put the cell phone on your ear until your party has picked up.
8. Avoid using your cell phone when the signal is weak or when moving at a high speed, like in a car, as this increases emissions.
9. Communicate, when possible, through text messaging rather than by phone.
10. Choose a device with the lowest SAR (specific absorption rate) possible.

A particular concern of mine is the fact that most young adults do not even own a land line, but rely entirely upon their cell phones for communication. Assuming that Dr. Servan-Schrieber and increasing numbers of other researchers are correct in their belief that cell phone use is potentially harmful, this does not bode well for the long-term health of our citizens.

Better safe than sorry has always been my motto. What are your thoughts?


Jill said...

I have been suspecting this for a very long time. It only makes sense. I also have been suspect of ultrasounds done on pregnant women. I think eventually we will hear stats on this usage also.
Thank you for posting this!

On a side note, I wonder if it helps to use a hands free device on cordless phones. I love clipping my cordless land line on my belt loop and talking away with the attachment on my head, while cleaning the house. Now I wonder if I should not be doing that.

Darlene said...

Pretty scary stuff. I have never liked talking on my cell phone and don't do it often. I do worry about my grandkids though, especially those that have no land based phone. I hope Kristin reads this, along with your kids. At least I know that my worries are not groundless, in this case anyway.

Now I know why you have joined the group of texters. I still don't do that, but maybe I should look into it. We are thinking of changing our cell phone to just a bare bones one and just use it in case of emergencies. We pretty much do that anyway, but have been paying for a lot of minutes we never use.

It does seem that brain tumors and cancer is increasing. Maybe cell phones are why.

Love you


Becky said...

I am not a huge cell phone fan. I have a little trac phone for emergencies or quick calls when out but still rely on the landline for everything else. Makes me wonder about wireless lap tops. :-O

KC Mom said...

Oh gosh, this makes me sick. Sick. I knew the cell phone was just too good to be true. I'm alarmed. If this is all true, imagine how bad the cases of cancer will sharply rise in the next 10 years as children who have been using cell phones will then be adults with cancer.

Sue said...

Yikes. I didn't mean to give everyone nightmares. We do need to remember that these are precautions only, as the jury is still out on there being definitive dangers. Having said that, I think it's better to err on the side of caution, which is why I put this post up.

But I do agree with KC Mom that the scariest part is how much time our kids spend on those phones every day. And I speak from personal experience when I say that it's VERY hard to talk them out of it! At least, I haven't succeeded...


Karen Sue said...

My kids have cell phones, but mostly text, which is annoying on its own. House rule is supposed to be that these go on the kitchen counted at bedtime. Guess it's time to enforce that more strictly, too.

karen said...

My daughter in Puerto Rico relies solely on her cell phone and she uses it A LOT. I hate to give her this bit of news when she's so homesick already, but it beats a brain tumor.

em said...

i watched brian william's report last night. some gentlemen that looked like he was doing the congressional hearing grilled two professional looking women about their findings. it seemed like the congressional man didn't seem to think that a handle of people getting brain cancer was enough for them to pay attention. it made me wonder...

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